While the House GOP and conservative Democrats have been calling for Social Security spending to be reined in, a subset of Republicans has acknowledged a different reality: The old-age program does not now keep up with the costs facing seniors. At least one House Republican is committed to increasing Social Security payments by changing how the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) is calculated, according to a letter sent to a constituent.
In a letter dated June 5, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) explained to a constituent that the current method of calculating price hikes doesn't accurately account for all the costs seniors pay and that a consumer price index designed specifically for people age 62 and over would be a far better gauge.
"I am not willing to ask seniors to bear a disproportionate share of the burden," he wrote.
Last Congress, Fitzpatrick co-sponsored H.R. 456, which would have required the creation of a consumer price index for elderly consumers, he noted.
Fitzpatrick's constituent forwarded the letter to Rep. Alan Grayson as part of the Florida Democrat's "citizen whip" project. Grayson's office provided the letter to HuffPost.
As outlined in H.R. 456, creating a consumer price index for elderly consumers would change how the Social Security Administration calculates the annual COLA by taking into account how consumption habits change with age. Today, the agency uses the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers to determine the amount received by Social Security beneficiaries.
Fitzpatrick was one of just seven GOP representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 456. The other Republicans who got behind the bill were then-Rep. Timothy Johnson (Ill.) and current Reps. Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.), David McKinley (W.Va.), Pat Meehan (Pa.), Mike Rogers (Ala.) and Don Young (Alaska). In his letter, Fitzpatrick also underscored his commitment to supporting similar legislation in this Congress.
Republican leaders have repeatedly said that cutting Social Security and other entitlement programs is critical to solving the country's debt crisis. Many GOP leaders considered President Barack Obama's inclusion of "chained CPI" in his recent budget proposal to be progress; that measure would slow Social Security disbursement and result in savings for the federal government over time.