Weatherford Democrat

Columns

March 4, 2014

Yes, we want it; no, we don’t?

By DONNA BRAZILE

Maybe our media will finally start filtering the noise. 

President Obama will release his 2015 budget next week, and the Beltway babble has already fixated on defense spending and Social Security — and which is the “most unkindest cut of all.”

But there’s more to the budget than meets the sound bite. Does it really include defense cuts and entitlement growth?

To quote Fox News, “The president’s budget includes 215 proposals to cut spending, will raise $680 billion in new tax revenues and reduce future deficits by $600 billion over 10 years.” 

Despite news stories that President Obama is cutting defense spending, he actually is asking for more money. The president’s budget removes sequester cuts, which everyone agrees were harmful to our defense; thus, not counting savings from reorganization and cutting wasteful spending, Obama’s overall budget proposal, as Kevin Drum of Mother Jones points out, “is $115 billion more than the current sequester levels demanded by Republicans.”

When the president announced that the “chained CPI” proposal won’t be in his 2015 budget, we got the cliched hyperventilating that results whenever Obama’s name is mentioned. But there are sound economic — and political — reasons not to chain CPI. The CPI, or consumer price index, is a way to index spending and taxes — including Social Security benefits — to the rate of inflation. (Inflation, of course, is an economic term for the rise in prices over time.) 

There are two ways to calculate CPI: CPI-W, an index for urban wage earners and clerical workers; and chained CPI, an index for all urban workers. Social Security benefits “tick up” slower under chained CPI, adversely affecting the vulnerable and the elderly. The AARP opposes it. The organization points out that if chained CPI is implemented now, someone who retires at 62 will be losing the equivalent of a month’s Social Security per year by the time he or she is 92, as compared to current CPI levels. Chained CPI economically shackles retired citizens who depend on Social Security.

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