First, the proposal — “chained CPI,” a change in the way inflation is measured — is very small. It reduces Social Security by a quarter of a penny on the dollar — a $2,000 check reduced by a five-dollar bill.Robert Samuelson ridicules the timidity of President Obama's proposed budget for doing nothing about continuing the trend of higher spending for the elderly at the expense of every other part of the federal budget.
Second, the change is merely technical. The White House itself admits that the result is simply a more accurate measure of inflation. It’s not really cutting anything. It merely eliminates an unintended overpayment.
Finally, the president made it clear that he doesn’t like this reform at all. It’s merely a gift to Republicans. This is odd. Why should a technical correction be a political favor to anyone? Is getting things right not a favor to the nation?
What the budget is crying out for is some entitlement reform that goes beyond the bare-minimum CPI revision that just about every deficit commission of the last 15 years has recommended as an obvious gimme. The other obvious reform is to raise the retirement/eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare to match longevity. These programs were meant to protect the elderly from destitution, not to subsidize almost one-third the adult life of every baby boomer.
So Obama has taken a pass. He has chosen the lazy way out. He’s evading basic choices while claiming he’s bold and brave. A more charitable interpretation is that he’s focusing his political talents on more promising causes (gun control, immigration). Either way, government is slowly growing larger while — in many basic functions — it’s being strangled. This paradox, it seems, will be Obama’s questionable legacy.We've seen this irresponsibility for decades now. It is so depressing that, as the projections worsen, nothing changes.