Friday letters: Reject notion of chained CPI

November 1, 2013 

A flawed policy initiative called the chained CPI (Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers) is gaining steam in Washington budget talks. It would shortchange South Carolinians who receive federal benefits such as Social Security and federal annuities by low-balling 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 “better measure of inflation.”

When you cut through the rhetoric, the truth is that the chained CPI is only an adjustment in that it means smaller cost-of-living adjustments each year. It hurts every American — particularly our most vulnerable — in a major way that worsens over time.

Consider someone who receives the average $15,000 annual Social Security benefit. Over 25 years, chained 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 her retired years.

For many federal annuitants who don’t receive Social Security, the impact is even greater. Over 25 years, the average federal retiree would see a loss of $48,000.

I urge South Carolina’s members of Congress to reject the chained CPI and provide America’s seniors, retired veterans, public servants and individuals with disabilities the income protection they have earned and deserve.

Kathryn Hensley


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