TAMPA — Budget negotiations now underway in Congress apparently don’t include any changes to the federal program some say is the most important to Florida, Social Security, but a change in the way benefits are calculated — one that could cost the state billions — still looms as a possibility in future discussions.
The change, known as the “chained CPI,” for consumer price index, would affect how cost-of-living increases in Social Security benefits and other federal programs are determined. It would lower future increases in Social Security benefits by a small amount at first, but an amount that would grow over time.
President Barack Obama proclaimed during his 2008 campaign that he opposed reducing Social Security’s cost-of-living increases or raising the retirement age.
“Now let me be clear, I will not do either,” he said in a September 2008 speech to an AARP convention.
Many Democrats, including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and Tampa Rep. Kathy Castor, oppose the change.
Nonetheless, Obama included the chained CPI in his 2014 budget proposal. The proposal called it a compromise to demands by Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner, “demonstrating (Obama’s) willingness to make tough choices and his seriousness about finding common ground to further reduce the deficit.”