Local woman who spoke at Dem convention disappointed in Obama on Social Securityby George Bennett | July 2nd, 2013
PALM BEACH GARDENS — Retiree Carol Berman of West Palm Beach spoke glowingly of President Barack Obama from the podium at last year’s Democratic National Convention, but she found herself in the odd position today of criticizing the president for his proposal to slow down future Social Security benefit increases.
Berman was part of a crowd of about 30 people, mostly retirees from Democrat-leaning groups, who demonstrated outside the local office of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to urge Rubio to oppose Obama’s “chained CPI” proposal.
The budget plan Obama submitted this year includes an estimated $130 billion in savings over 10 years by adopting a new inflation formula that results in slight reductions in annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other programs. Many Republicans praised that aspect of Obama’s budget.
If chained CPI had been in effect this year, seniors would have received a 1.4 percent cost-of-living adjustment instead of the 1.7 percent hike they got. The annual differences are small, but senior advocates say they add up over time to hurt retirees on fixed incomes.
Berman, a volunteer with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, gave a speech at last year’s Democratic convention praising Obama’s support for the federal health care law and its elimination of the Medicare “donut hole.”
Today she said she believes the chained CPI proposal goes against Obama’s pledge not to reduce Social Security benefits.
“I just can’t believe he did that. It’s just beyond my comprehension. I worked so hard for him and what he stood for and what he said,” Berman said. “Max Richtman (president of the NCPSSM) sat at the table with him and he said Obama assured him that he was not going to touch Social Security or Medicare….Now Max is coming back and saying you’ve got to go out there and fight again.”
The event outside Rubio’s office was organized by the labor-backed Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and included representatives of the AFL-CIO and MoveOn and officers of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.
“President Obama has strayed off the reservation a little bit on Social Security and we don’t support him even uttering those comments,” Florida Alliance President Tony Fransetta said of the chained CPI idea.
“I’m totally disappointed in (Obama) because that was one of his campaign promises…no touches on Social Security and Medicare at all, nothing,” said Gregg Drzewicki, an NCPSSM member.
Bunny Steinman, the county Democratic Party’s state committeewoman, said she doesn’t think Obama is fully committed to chained CPI.
“I think he’s considering this and that’s all. I think he’s just considering it,” Steinman said. “I understand it, but I don’t accept it.”
A Rubio spokeswoman said the Senator “won’t support any proposals that change the benefit structure for current retirees, like his mom, but is open to reforms to help financially strengthen the system and preserve Medicare and Social Security for future generations.”