Since 1975, retired people on Social Security have received an extra increase beyond their annual benefit, based on the increase in the cost-of-living. The process compensates retirees, who live mostly on fixed incomes, for the higher prices they have to pay for the goods and services they need for ordinary living.
But for 2011, President Obama has decided to cancel the cost-of -living benefit (known as COLA), acting on his own authority), without informing retired people or the general public.
Surely, the President knows that retired people have to pay for the rising cost of food, housing, transportation, fuel, child care and many other necessities with the same fixed monthly Social Security check, without which many of the 53 million retirees would find it difficult to survive.
The retirees are hardly the only ones who will be victimized as Obama proceeds with the trillion dollars of spending cuts that he worked out in a deal with the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner. We know the deal includes major cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and possibly Social Security. But what else? We don't know. And our officers, because they may not know, won't tell us.
To reduce the federal debt by a trillion dollars will require an enormous amount of spending cuts that will eliminate or cripple dozens of programs that help working people.
Why Isn't the AFL-CIO Fighting Back?
As far as we know, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has not publicly questioned the deal that Obama made with Republicans to cut spending by a trillion dollars in order to lower the federal deficit. Besides speaking up on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Trumka has remained silent on spending cuts that are manifestly unfair or unnecessary.
AFL-CIO leaders who are supporting Obama for a second term as president are reluctant to criticize him for fear that in a close race with a strong Republican contender he might risk defeat. Thus, there was no heavy attack on Obama for signing a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, where 15 trade unionists had been murdered since April.