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Thu Dec 20, 2012, 08:04 AM

This needs to be said... [View all]

While DU goes through one of its typical Grand Mal Freak-Outs (TM) over chained CPI, this might be a good time to hear some alternative opinion. This was a link in another thread but it deserves a thread of its own.

Chained CPI is NOT a Cut to Social Security


There is a big freakout over a possible fiscal cliff deal including the use of something called "chained CPI" to calculate increases in Social Security benefits. Go to Huffington Post, Daily Kos or another "liberal" blog and you will see people who never supported the president in the first place but nonetheless claim to be his "base" lamenting over what a backstabber he is.

The president, as part of the fiscal cliff negotiation offers and counteroffers, has apparently opened the possibility of slightly adjusting the way cost of living increases are calculated for Social Security, by tying it (and all other government accounting) to a "chained CPI" model, a more accurate measure of inflation that accounts for the idea (and fact) that consumers often replace an item with increasing prices with a less expensive substitute. Apparently, this set off more alarm bells on the Left's media than Pearl Harbor. But as with most hair-on-fire freakouts, there is less here than meets the eye.

**************

But but but... won't this still reduce the total lifetime benefit of a senior? Yes, insofar as each additional year lived is an increase in one's lifetime benefits. The only way you can honestly term the Chained CPI measure a "cut" is if you are willing to also make the case that every additional year lived is an "increase" in benefits. Which of our beloved defenders of Social Security would like to make this case to seniors, please step forward.

Chained CPI is not a cut in baseline benefits in Social Security. Even Paul Krugman - the Professional Left's greatest self-proclaimed bearded professor - admits that initial benefits are determined by one's earnings, but that chained CPI would reduce the rate of growth of those benefits by about 0.3%. For every "progressive" who believes that such slowing of the rate of growth is a "benefit cut," I would like them also to step forward and with a straight face, tell me that cutting the rate of growth of defense spending is a "cut" in defense spending. If you think you're a liberal, go ahead and try to say that. Out loud. With a straight face. You can't do it, can you?


Bolding is added by me. Other sources on this subject include:

The Center for American Progress

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

Could we please refrain from demanding the head of Barack Obama on a platter until we hear all the details?

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