The Washington Post once again confounded its critics who insisted that it couldn't get any worse. Yesterday the paper ran an editorial that criticized Vice President Joe Biden for his lack of courage when he committed the administration to a policy of not cutting Social Security. Biden repeatedly told an audience in Southern Virginia that he guaranteed there would be no cuts to Social Security in a second Obama administration.
The paper then laid out its case for cuts to the program and outlined its plan:
"Tweak the inflation calculator and moderately raise the income limit for applying the payroll tax, and you can shore up Social Security with no harm to the safety net."
Did you catch the cuts in that sentence? If not, that is what "tweak the inflation adjustment" means. It means reducing the size of the benefit by 0.3 percent annually. This cut accumulates over time to roughly 3 percent after 10 years, 6 percent after 20 years, and for those who collect benefits long enough, 9 percent after 30 years. Certainly many people might think that a 9 percent cut in benefits for 10 percent of retirees who rely solely on Social Security for their income, or the 30 percent of retirees who rely on it for more than 90 percent of their income, does some harm to the safety net.
The great part of this story is that in an editorial condemning Biden's lack of courage on Social Security, the Post used a euphemism for cuts that probably eluded most readers. After all, cutting benefits for retirees by 0.3 percent a year doesn't sound very nice, tweaking the inflation adjustment is much friendlier.
Only in the Washington Post.