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It might be better to go off ‘fiscal cliff’

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, just a concerned American. I have no idea why the Republicans believe they have some leverage when it comes to the debt ceiling, or why some Democrats also believe this.

After all, the 14th Amendment tells us that: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

President Obama could actually issue an executive order raising the debt ceiling. Yet he has said that he will not use the 14th Amendment to do this. His reasoning escapes me. I believe that it may show gratuitous weakness among the Democrats, and perhaps open the door to possible cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. There have already been rumblings about increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.

Most recently, the president has offered to either cut altogether or alter the way in which Social Security COLAs are adjusted, probably using the chained consumer price index, or Chained CPI method. This is in exchange for the Republicans’ willingness to raise taxes only on those making $400,000 or more per year. Has Obama forgotten his own much-trumpeted campaign pledge to increase taxes on those making $250,000 or more per year? Yes, whatever did happen to tax increases on the top 2 percent?

The Chained CPI calculus would cut annual benefits for an average worker who retires at age 65 by $650 at age 75, and $1,130 by age 85. Clearly, the chained CPI method is reckless. From this vantage point, it is far more practical to go over the “fiscal cliff.”

Gene Grabiner

Buffalo