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Yesterday, the editors of USA endorsed adoption of the chained CPI to cut the budget deficit in Editorial: Change inflation index to cut deficit. Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) heroically wrote the opposing opinion defending our elderly and disabled entitled Don't nickel-and-dime our seniors, which I recommend.

Representative Jerry Nadler reminds us that the average Social Security beneficiary, which includes seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, children and the families that support them - receives only $14,000 a year from the program, and that the Republicans have been trying to undermine the Social Security program, for years, by introducing the "chained CPI" formula to reduce the rate of inflation cost-of-living adjustments for our seniors and disabled.  Seniors paid into this earned benefit program their whole lives on the promise that benefits would be able in their retirement.  

Perhaps Republicans hope we will buy their argument that seniors are wealthy and don't need so much from Social Security. Perhaps they hope we will be convinced that these benefit cuts seem so small that we ignore how this cut compounds over time — because, with the chained CPI, the longer you live, the more benefits you lose. Perhaps they hope we will forget that Social Security is self-financed and does not contribute to the deficit. Perhaps they believe we will accept depriving seniors while they refuse to ask the wealthiest to pay one penny more.

But I don't buy it for a second. Social Security is a promise made many decades ago. Work hard, play by the rules, pay your taxes and you will have a Social Security check in your twilight years to stave off poverty. And that Social Security check will be adjusted so inflation doesn't cut down its worth. ...

Switching to chained CPI doesn't save any money; it shifts costs onto seniors and the disabled. Seniors already struggle to afford their costs as they age. Between rent, groceries, transportation and medical costs — yes, I said medical costs, because as every senior knows, Medicare is not free, costing an average $4,600 annually in out-of-pocket costs — seniors too often are just scraping by. ...

We are nickel-and-diming seniors and their families to death. We have to stop looking to America's most vulnerable to sacrifice even more and to expect even less. We all deserve better.

Ironically, the USA Editorial Board, sites statistics on the 75 year compounded "savings"  of $67 trillion, due to changing this formula,  highlighting an insufficiently discussed major problem with this formula -- it continues to reduce benefits by not keeping up with real inflation, forever.

Even an annual shortfall of 2%, if compounded over centuries, eventually wipes out virtually the entire real value of the program. This is a plan to essentially destroy the Social Security program in less than a century.

Perhaps the best example of this is their opposition to a common-sense plan, put on the table during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, to cut the deficit by $211 billion over 10 years by changing the formula the government uses to calculate inflation for taxes and benefits. ...

This would reduce the deficit by about $100 billion over 10 years. Its impact beyond a decade would be even bigger. The trustees who run Social Security estimate that the new formula would erase slightly more than half of the program's 75-year shortfall of $134 trillion.

There is no component of a "grand bargain" that would be worth taking $67 trillion out of Social Security over 75 years, essentially destroying the program, not even the $30 billion extension of unemployment benefits for the 2 million out of work, which I otherwise support, and believe we should fight for separately on its own merits.

Shame on anyone who supports such an insidious and dastardly plan. As we start our "accountability lists" of which politicians to support and which to campaign against in 2014 and future elections, Representative Jerry Nadler is clearly one of the keepers, who need to be installed in our "Progressive Hall of Fame," rather than the "Hall of Shame" some seem destined to.


Which statement best states your opinion about including the chained-CPI in a grand bargain?

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