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AARP CEO Responds to Obama's Deficit Reduction Proposal

"Social Security did not cause the deficit and should not be cut."

AARP CEO Barry Rand released a statement today in response to a report in the Washington Post that the White House was open to making cuts in programs such as Social Security and Medicare to reach an agreement with Republicans before the August 2 deadline to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

See also: "Social Security and Medicare benefits should not be on the table for deficit reduction."

“AARP will not accept any cuts to Social Security as part of a deal to pay the nation’s bills,” said Rand. “Social Security did not cause the deficit, and it should not be cut to reduce a deficit it did not cause. As the President and Congress work to negotiate a deal to raise the debt ceiling, AARP urges all lawmakers to reject any proposals that would cut the benefits seniors have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

“AARP is strongly opposed to any deficit reduction proposal that makes harmful cuts to vital Social Security and Medicare benefits. Social Security is currently the principal source of income for nearly two-thirds of older American households receiving benefits, and roughly one third of those households depend on Social Security benefits for nearly all (90 percent or more) of their income. The deficit debate is not the time or the place to talk about Social Security. AARP will fight any cuts that are proposed to this important program, including proposals to reduce the cost of living adjustment for beneficiaries (COLA) — such as the proposed chained CPI — which AARP also believes should not be considered as part of the debt ceiling or deficit reduction negotiations."

In a budget proposal offered in April, President Obama vowed opposition to any cuts in Social Security or Medicare.

So the report that the White House might be considering changes to the popular programs caused shock waves in Washington. A few hours after the Washington Post story, the White House appeared to be clarifying the president's position, with a White House official who is close to the negotiations telling the Huffington Post that the Washington Post story "overshoots the runway." The official continued: "The President said in the State of the Union that he wanted a bipartisan process to strengthen Social Security in a balanced way that preserves the promise of the program and doesn't slash benefits."

The statement from AARP CEO Barry Rand echoes previous statements from the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

As Rand concluded: “Throughout the deficit reduction and debt ceiling debate, AARP will continue its efforts to raise the voices of our members who depend on Social Security and Medicare for their health and economic security.”