When You've Lost the VFW On Budget Cuts, You've Lost America
Posted in the Minneapolis Forum
#1 Dec 12, 2012
The "chained CPI" is an attempt to camouflage deep cuts to Social Security and other benefits, along with tax hikes on middle class wages (but not for high incomes), in a forest of numbers and terminology.
Know who's expert at camouflage? Veterans. And a whole lot of their organizations hate the "chained CPI."
Sneaky ... But Simple
The headline for Derek Thompson's Atlantic piece calls the "chained CPI" "the sneaky, complicated idea that could end the fiscal cliff showdown." There's ongoing chatter that both parties might use it to solve their budget impasse, in large part because they think it's too complex and wonkish for voters to grasp.
But while it is sneaky, it's not that complicated. In fact, the "chained CPI" concept can be explained in one sentence: It calculates cost-of-living increases much more slowly than before, by subtracting the cost of the things you can't afford to buy anymore.
See? I did it in 22 words and 113 characters -- short enough to tweet. I'll bet you understood it even if you hadn't heard of it before. And not only understood it, but sensed its implications: As a financially-strapped public downgrades from fresh food to canned food ... to cat food ... their benefits will keep plunging along with their way of life.
And yet hope springs eternal among policymakers. Last year the president even said that "most folks would hardly notice" if this cut to the government's cost-of-living adjustment was enacted. Guess what: The nation's veterans noticed.
A wide range of organizations representing the nation's veterans signed a joint letter to leaders in Congress which said "we are writing to express our opposition to changing the formula used to calculate the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) because of the harmful effects it will have on veterans and Social Security benefits."
The organizations signing on to the letter (18 in all) spanned generations, with the Vietnam Veterans of America and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. It includes former enlisted personnel as well as the Military Officers Association of America. Gold Star Wives, an organization of widows and widowers whose spouses died while on active duty, was represented. And so was the VFW, or Veterans of Foreign Wars, an organization that had traditionally been staunchly conservative.
Here's a thought for politicians who might be considering the "chained CPI": When you've lost the VFW, you've lost America.
Getting It Right
Their letter's a cogent and very well-written analysis of this proposed benefit cut, which it rightly describes as a "misguided policy." Here's a sample:
The average retirement benefit of a veteran receiving Social Security was about $15,500 in 2010 ... A veteran with average earnings retiring at age 65 would get nearly a $600 benefit cut at age 75, and a $1,000 cut at age 85. By age 95, when Social Security benefits are probably needed the most, that veteran would face a cut of $1,400 -- a reduction of 9.2 percent.
That's absolutely correct. The chained-CPI would also raises taxes for most Americans, and in a very backhanded way: by forcing people into higher tax brackets much more quickly. Know what wouldn't get a tax hike under the chained CPI? Income above $250,000.
#2 Dec 12, 2012
No citations again, I see. You wingnuts dance on the graves of veterans to promote your leftwing world view. Care to guess what percentages of US military, active and retired voted Democrat?
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