Chained CPI idea is out of touch

Published 12:06am Friday, March 8, 2013

One of the worst ideas to surface in Washington lately—and that is saying something—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 us 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 Mississippi, almost 600,000 of us are Social Security recipients. Of these, 33.9% rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income and 58.2% rely on Social Security for 50% or more of their income.

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.

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


Bruce W. Brice, Sr.

AARP Mississippi State President