An article in Truthout by Dean Baker points out that a unanimous US Senate vote rejecting a move that would reduce Social Security benefits was not even reported on by such prominent US news outlets as the New York Times or Washington Post,
Dean Baker, is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research located in Washington DC. Baker points out that for most of the elite media the necessity for cuts to be made in Social Security is taken for granted. They highlight views of those who support that position and ignore or mock those who oppose it.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proposed an amendment to the budget registering the Senate's opposition to switching to the chained CPI from the present method used for calculating the cost of living adjustment (COLA) of Social Security payments. As indicated two prominent newspapers simply ignored this event. Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist. He is the first to do so in the US Congress in six decades.
Switching to the chained CPI is a favorite method of reducing benefits. While the amount cut is not huge on an annual basis it would add up over the years. For a retiree who collects benefits over twenty years it would represent around a 3 per cent reduction in benefits. The beauty of the CPI change is that everyone can claim that no cuts at all were made to benefits but that the formula had just been adjusted.
Baker says that the claim made by supporters of the change that the new measure would give a more accurate measure of the rate of inflation is not correct. He points out that actually even the present Consumer Price Index (CPI) is lower than the actual rate of inflation faced by seniors according to research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The elite just uses the claim of accuracy to convince reporters for the major media outlets to write about and support the chained CPI measure.
One would think that passage of an amendment opposing the use of the chained CPI would be newsworthy. The amendment provided an opportunity for all those senators who support a chained CPI to argue their case and try to defeat the amendment but there was not one senator who wanted to be recorded as being in support of this actual cut to Social Security.
Many Republican senators endlessly stress the need to cut entitlement spending and yet none spoke up to say that switching to the chained CPI was a good idea. Even President Obama has said that he supported the switch and no doubt will agree to it in any deal with Republicans on cutting the deficit. However, no Democratic senator was willing to support the president and help defeat the Sanders amendment.
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