Chained CPI—Discounting the Value of Women


Cat--in-a-bag

Why are policy makers thinking about cutting Social Security behind closed doors? Because it’s easier for them if you don’t really know what’s happening.

Well, the cat is out of the bag.

According to recent news reports, the chained CPI is officially on the table and gaining buzz in the current deficit reduction negotiations. If the chained CPI (a new and lower Consumer Price Index) is adopted the cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) that Social Security recipients depend on would be calculated in a new way that cuts the value of benefits each year. And no matter how Washington insiders try to spin it, it means a CUT to Social Security benefits.

Act now: Call/eMail your Members of Congress and ask them to take the chained CPI off the table during budget negotiations.

Need a reason to take action? How about five?

  1. The chained CPI will cut the value of benefits each year.
  2. The cuts add up — quickly. The cut in the value of benefits will be equivalent to the cost of a week’s worth of food each month by age 80 and nearly two weeks’ worth by 95 for the typical single elderly woman.
  3. The chained CPI cuts everyone’s benefits — including today’s beneficiaries — as soon as it goes into effect.
  4. It particularly hurts women because, on average, they live longer than men and are already more likely to be poor.
  5. It’s less accurate because it doesn’t account for the real increases in the cost of living the elderly face each year.

Oh, and there’s a 6th! As the White House has pointed out, Social Security isn’t the cause of our deficits. So switching the COLA to the chained CPI is just an underhanded move to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, especially elderly women.

— by Joan Entmacher, VP-Family Economic Security, National Women’s Law Center

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