Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


June 18, 2012

STUMPTALK: Our seniors are being cheated

CROSSVILLE — Amendments passed in 1972 to the Social Security Act provided for an annual Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) based on inflation factors provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the form of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) represented by a standardized shopping basket of consumer goods. Until recently, the total cost of those goods was compared each year to that of the previous year and a COLA percentage was determined based on the difference. This worked well for many years until Congressional Democrats apparently decided our seniors had too much of a good thing and measures were taken to reduce the CPI inflation rate. Today much of our official economic statistics are based on intentionally misleading data.

For example, the official unemployment rate is now being manipulated for political purposes by continually reducing the total workforce for those who have been determined as “no longer looking for work.” If we had the same workforce participation rate as during the Bush years there would be over 9.64 million more folks working today. By using these accounting tricks almost ten million jobs have simply disappeared. That’s how they can say unemployment rates are going down at the same time fewer people are actually employed. Weird, isn’t it?

Democrats changed in many deceptive ways how BLS calculates the CPI shopping basket. One method they now use is called “substitution.” For example, if the price of salmon goes up too much, it is removed from the basket of goods and substituted with something cheaper, like hot dogs. There are many such tricks currently being employed to falsely present a low inflation rate, and the result is that the CPI measure of inflation no longer reflects a true measure of the cost of living. You are probably aware there was no COLA at all for 2010 and 2011 (the first time that’s happened since 1972), and only 3.6% for 2012. If inflation were to be calculated like it used to be, the CPI index would have risen over 17% over the last three years, not just the 3.6% they tell us. Anybody who has been to the grocery store or stopped at the gas pump knows their cost of living has gone up by more than 3.6% in the last three years. In short, our seniors are being cheated.

These Democrat-passed changes could have been reversed if Obama wanted, but they weren’t because his party has a vested political interest in keeping unemployment and inflation figures artificially low, especially in an election year. These deceiving measures may be considered “good politics” by some, but meanwhile our economy continues to falter and our seniors are made to suffer. Re-election is priority one, the rest of us be damned.


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