Thursday, March 14, 2013

The (fiscal) reality-based community

Cue the spit-take.  The Hill: "Pelosi open to looking at Obama proposal to cut Social Security."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she'll consider Social Security cuts as part of a sweeping deficit-reduction package.
If you believe that Democrats in Congress will touch this with a ten-foot pole, I have a bridge in San Francisco to sell you.  As somebody wrote today, they're going to keep dancing to this tune until the music stops.

But maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe they're willing to trade tax reform for Social Security reforms, or more specifically, Obama's only (public) proposal: changing to the chained-CPI calculation for future benefits.  According to various sources, this more accurate calculation of inflation will save the federal government somewhere between $217 and $300 billion over 10 years.

Not a bad chunk of change, eh?  But over the next ten years, spending on Social Security expenditures will rise from $0.8 trillion this year to $1.4 trillion/year in 2023.  That means over the next decade, the total payments will top out around $11.5 trillion and $300 billion in chained-CPI savings will bring that crashing down to $11.2 trillion - a savings of 2.6%.

I think taking a more realistic calculation of inflation is, um, realistic.  Heck, I think anything that extends Social Security's solvency somewhere near my own retirement age is a plus.  But I guarantee that Democrats will run screaming from even this paltry, barely-a-scratch, adjustment because "scaring Grandma" is their biennial approach to winning elections.

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