CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., praised a White House announcement that President Obama won't propose cutting Social Security cost-of-living adjustments in his budget request for the coming fiscal year.
"Thank goodness the message seems to have finally sunk in at the White House -- stay away from Social Security COLAs.
"Having written to the president and cosponsored legislation to ward off any proposed Social Security cuts that would impact seniors' COLAs, I am thrilled to hear that this bone-headed idea is being dropped. Maybe now we can focus on finding better ways to strengthen the existing system to help our seniors and working families," Rahall said.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., did not comment on the White House decision, which reversed Obama's previous suggestions that he might support a "Chained Consumer Price Index" to calculate Social Security benefits.
Some members of Congress backed proposals to use the "chained CPI" -- an alternative inflation measure the BLS began releasing in 2002 that would reduce Social Security increases.
A recent Center for Economic and Policy Research paper stated, "The chained CPI is relatively new and has only been calculated by the BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] since 2002. It has shown a rate of inflation 0.3 percent lower than the current index used to calculate Social Security's annual cost-of-living adjustment."
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who will run as a Democrat against Capito for the United States Senate seat, said chained CPI should never have been on the table in the first place.
"The president was wrong to throw West Virginia seniors under the bus when he proposed it," she said. "West Virginians work hard all their lives to pay into Social Security, and I will always protect the benefits they've earned."
Gaylene Miller, West Virginia state director for the AARP, said earlier this year that growing debt burdens, smaller pension and the increasing cost of health care make Social Security all the more important.
"Older West Virginians depend upon the Social Security benefits they have earned through a lifetime of hard work. Last year alone, Social Security accounted for 60 percent of the typical older West Virginian's family income," Miller said.
Social Security, created more than 78 years ago, provides an average monthly benefit of $1,200 to more than 285,000 older West Virginians.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, also praised Obama's decision to eliminate the chained CPI from his upcoming budget proposals for 2015.