Women are an important constituency in the Democratic party (they were twice as likely to vote for Obama in the last election as any other group). Add to that the fact that one of the most common fears among single women is becoming a bag lady. Gee, Medicare and Social Security cuts sound like a real formula for electoral success, huh?
This week, multimillionaire House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi seemingly alerted women to the dangers of the changes to Social Security and Medicare in the various debt ceiling proposals - but also claims that a change to the chained CPI isn't a cut. That sounds like she sees the train coming down the track and knows she has to sell it to her caucus:
“We know firsthand the impact of changes in Medicare,” said Pelosi, flanked by 14 other Democratic women. “We know it because we are women and caregivers and we know it because of the people we represent. We know it because of the special interest we have taken in this bedrock of security for women and families in our country.”
Several lawmakers pointed out that women tend to live longer than men, and are usually the primary caregivers in families – making their dependency on key social programs that much more urgent.
Several of Pelosi’s colleagues were adamant that changing how Social Security benefits are calculated would essentially be cutting benefits – a stance that the House’s top Democrat didn’t embrace on Tuesday.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) [Ed. note: net worth $130K] stressed that using the chained Consumer Price Index to calculate benefits would push more seniors into poverty. And Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) [Ed. note: assets up to $5M, with debt totaling $5M] added that reducing these cost-of-living adjustments would “acutely harm” Latina women.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) [Ed. note: net worth $50M] said “even Grover Norquist” – the influential leader of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform – considers using the chained CPI to determine benefits a tax hike.
“Let’s remember that the average income on Social Security is $19,000 a year,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). [Ed. note: collects a pension of almost $23K annum from State of Illinois, net worth up to $390,999] “And these are the people who ought to be paying to cut the deficit here?”
NOTE: I'm continuing my little experiment (inspired by this) of illustrating just how large a class divide exists between us and our elected representatives. As has been reported elsewhere, members of Congress seem to have amazing luck with the stock market - frequently beating the Street by significant margins. So let's keep in mind that their interests may not always align with ours.