‘One of the worst ideas’ — cutting Social Security

To the Editor:

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 Connecticut, where there are nearly half a million of us who receive Social Security, we would lose over $1.4 billion in benefits over 10 years.

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.

Byron D. Peterson

AARP Executive Council member