GOP Senator Lindsey Graham Takes Nation Hostage – Raise Social Security Retirement Age Or Else

Lindsey Graham

As reported on Think Progress, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who represents South Carolina, would throw the country into an economic calamity that is expected to make 2008’s Great Recession look like a New Year’s Eve party if Republicans don’t get the spending cuts to entitlements they’re so desperately craving.

Senator Graham appeared on Fox News this morning, where he said:

“I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling unless we get serious about keeping the country from becoming Greece, saving Social Security and Medicare. So here’s what I would like. Meaningful entitlement reform – not to turn Social Security into a private account, not to take a voucher approach to Medicare, but adjust the age for Social Security, CPI changes and means testing, and look beyond a 10-year window. I cannot in good conscience raise the debt ceiling without addressing the long-term debt problems of this country, and I will not.”

Yes, you read that right. Republicans are already gearing up for more hostage negotiations with the country held at figurative gunpoint while the GOP sends out their demands for how they wish to make things more miserable for the middle class. And when Senator Graham says we need to get serious about keeping the country from becoming Greece, I guess he hasn’t been following developments in Greece, where the sort of austerity he’s calling for actually worsened that country’s economic situation.

When Senator Graham says, “CPI changes,” what he means is altering the way the Consumer Price Index is calculated, presumably speaking of the “Chained CPI” system developed by the infamous “Gang of Six” senators. Standard CPI is calculated using certain staple items – when those staples go up in price, Social Security payments go up in price at the same rate. With Chained CPI, Social Security payments would not rise at the same rate as all those staples, but would rise only based on the most crucial staples, the reasoning being that seniors can substitute or go without some of the items currently used in the calculation. For instance, if beef goes up in price, seniors can simply eat less beef and get their protein from chicken instead.

President Obama said today on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that, although Chained CPI is “highly unpopular among Democrats” the President was “willing to make those decisions.”

The President did not, however, mention raising the age of retiring for Social Security, which Republicans are clamoring for, unsympathetic with those who perform physical labor for a living and whose bodies have a tough time making it to age 65 much less later than that.

Last time the newly elected Tea Party congressional members held the country hostage over the debt ceiling, the U.S.’s credit rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) from AAA to AA-plus, which resulted in a minimal interest increase on debt, but, if the other two major credit agencies (Moody’s and Fitch) follow suit this year, Republicans could be costing the U.S. substantially in debt interest – and that’s the kind of government waste Americans simply will not stand for.