Obama’s “Cat Food” Social Security Reform


The Real News Network has a story Obama’s “Cat Food” Social Security Reform which further explains what I have been blogging.


JAY: So just quickly dig into this CPI thing, this chained cost of living. Why are people criticizing this, and what does it mean?

HUDSON: Well, because it’s not a cost of living index. It’s the cost of lower living standards index. It’s the–some people call it the cat food index.

Here’s what it does. Suppose that you have to switch away from eating steak or eating meat or eating fish to eating canned tuna fish or canned beans. That’s considered a price reduction.

If the chained index is done properly, you can cut Social Security by 50 percent. And here’s how. If people stop taking cabs and begin to take buses, that’s considered a lower cost of living. Well, what if they buy a bicycle? All Obama has to say is, look, folks, if you really want to save money, get a bike. That’s what Margaret Thatcher said. That was one of her campaign slogans, get a bike. So all of a sudden, the transportation in the cost of living goes down to zero. People pay between 25 percent and 40 percent of their income on rent. Let them live out on the street. Let them live in a homeless shelter

JAY: And that’s because the concept behind this chained CPI is that people are finding cheaper ways to do things, and that supposedly not being reflected in the current system.

HUDSON: That’s right. People are having to walk to work instead of taking buses. They’re having to eat tuna fish and canned beans instead of buying fresh food on the table. Of course they’re finding cheaper ways. We call that declining living standards.

And the start of the budget is: how can we screw the Social Security recipients, how can we pay them less to pay our clientele, our campaign contributors, the 1 percent more? You have to start with where they do, with the class wars back in business. And how do they sugar coat it? By calling it a price index instead of a cat food index or a declining living standards index. This is absolute slimy politics.

In my previous post Robert Reich on Chained CPI (the proposal to cut Social Security benefits), I remarked

With some Seniors eating dog food to make ends meet, what does the President want them to eat instead when dog food becomes too expensive?

So, I was slightly off. It’s not dog food, it’s cat food.

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