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'Chained CPI' is a bad idea

Feb 18, 2013 - Charlie Smith, Lander


One of the worst ideas to surface in Washington lately is the proposal to cut Social Security benefits by changing the way the cost-of-living is calculated.

This plan, the so called "chained CPI", is often portrayed as just a technical fix. In fact, it would cut our hard-earned Social Security benefits substantially, leaving seniors with less protection against increasingly expensive health care, prescription drugs, and utilities.

The only thing that is "cheap" is the talk of all the politicians who promised they would not cut Social Security benefits for current recipients.

The chained CPI breaks that pledge, cutting benefits for current seniors, and does it in a way that the longer we live, the more we lose.

In Wyoming, where there are 67,000 of us who receive Social Security, we would lose almost $190 million in benefits over 10 years.

The CPI already fails to take into account that seniors spend more on health care, which is rising much faster than overall prices. And this proposal assumes, wrongly, that when prices go up, seniors can simply plug in a less expensive substitute.

But seniors spend much of our money on basics such as drugs, utilities, and health care, which don't have lower cost substitutes.

Social Security is a program that enjoys broad support because it works. It is too important to the lives of so many to consider cutting benefits. The only real discussion should be about how best to improve the funding so that it continues to be strong for future generations.

A chained CPI is out-of-touch with our daily lives. Let's keep it out of the law.

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