A flawed policy initiative called the chained consumer price index for all urban consumers, known as chained CPI, is gaining steam in federal budget talks as a way to trim the national debt. However, I believe this proposal would shortchange Washingtonians who receive federal civilian and military retirement benefits, such as Social Security, veterans and disability benefits, by lowballing their annual cost-of-living adjustments. Chained CPI supporters have tried to minimize the consequences it will have on seniors, retired federal employees, and veterans by calling it a "technical adjustment" or a "better measure of inflation."
When you cut through the rhetoric, I believe the truth is that the chained CPI is only an adjustment in that it means smaller cost of living increases each year. It hurts every American - particularly our most vulnerable seniors on a fixed income - in a major way that worsens over time.
How would the switch to the chained CPI hurt an American citizen who receives the average $15,000 annual Social Security benefit? Over 25 years, Cchained CPI would rob the senior of more than $23,000. Just think of how many coupons that senior would have to clip to make up for the loss of $23,000 over his/her retired years.
Using the chained CPI as an inflation measure would decrease benefits for low income seniors and the disabled, including disabled veterans, while simultaneously increasing taxes on lower and middle-income taxpayers. I urge Washington state lawmakers to reject the chained CPI and provide America's seniors, retired veterans and public servants, and individuals with disabilities the income protection they have earned and deserve.
D. Brady Green