Social Security is the country’s most important social program. It has kept tens of millions of retired and disabled workers and their families out of poverty over the last seven decades. It is also an enormously popular program, with overwhelming majorities of people across the political and ideological spectrum telling pollsters they support the program and don’t want to see it cut.
This is why politicians who want to cut Social Security try to find backdoor ways to reduce benefits. The favorite in Washington these days is a plan to reduce the annual cost of living adjustment by 0.3 percentage points. This cut would be done by using a different index for measuring inflation.
A reduction of 0.3 percentage points might sound trivial, but it adds up over time. After 10 years, peoples’ benefits would be reduced by 3 percent; after 20 years, the reduction would be 6 percent. For an elderly population that is already living pretty close to the poverty line, this is a serious issue.
But, here in Washington, the popular line among politicians and others is that the proposed cuts would simply amount to a “change.” In fact, the Washington Post recently ran an editorial in which they described this proposed cut as a “tweak [to] the inflation calculator.” Ironically, this comment appeared in an editorial that condemned Vice President Joe Biden for a lack of courage because he opposed cuts to Social Security.
Perhaps there are valid arguments to be made as to why Social Security benefits should be reduced. But the people who support cuts should be forced to make these arguments and win their case in public debate. They should not be allowed to go behind everyone’s back and make their cuts in the dark of night.
This is where CEPR comes in. In this case, as in so many other areas, CEPR will be shining its flashlight so that no one is allowed to “tweak” Social Security. And this is where you come in - we need your help to do so. Please click below and donate to CEPR to make sure we have the battery power necessary for the job. It’s crucial that our voice is heard. We’re up against a powerful elite. With your help, we can stand strong and shine the light in their eyes.
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Dean, Mark and CEPR Staff