A chained CPI is not fair to veterans | Letter
February 13, 2013 · Updated 5:33 PM
A little-understood proposal to cut federal spending would demand sacrifice from a group that has given more than its share - our nation’s veterans, including those with severe disabilities and elderly survivors of World War II.
The proposal, known as the chained CPI, is touted as a more accurate way to compute cost-of-living adjustments to federal benefits than the current inflation index. Unfortunately, it underestimates the health care spending of seniors, as well as others who may have chronic conditions and disabilities, because it is based on a younger, working population.
Further, it overestimates the ability of older veterans and many others to substitute services and products when prices rise.
Nationally, 23 million veterans would lose an estimated $17 billion over a 10-year period. In Washington state that would translate to a loss of $458 million for 612,000 veterans over the next decade.
Reductions would also build up for Social Security benefits, which millions of veterans depend on as the foundation of their financial well-being in old age. Under a chained CPI, a retiree who lives to age 92 would actually lose a month’s worth of benefits each year.
Surely, our great nation can find a way to strengthen its finances without taking even more from those who already have given so much.
John Barnett, AARP Washington State president and Kirkland resident