90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Social Security And The Fiscal Cliff

A controversial fiscal cliff: peg social security payments to a lower inflation gauge  — the “chained CPI.”  We’ll look at the impact.

 President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama’s re-election has stiffened Democrats’ spine against cutting popular benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. (AP)

President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama’s re-election has stiffened Democrats’ spine against cutting popular benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. (AP)

“Chained CPI” sounds like some kind of high-tech torture.  In fact, it’s a way of calculating inflation that may be on its way to cutting Social Security payments.  In the big arm-wrestle of negotiations over the fiscal cliff, “chained CPI” is in the mix.

President Obama wants higher taxes on the wealthy.  Republicans want to rein in entitlements.  Here’s a way to do it.  Whittle back Social Security payments.  Seniors don’t need beef.  They could eat chicken.  Or goat.  Or something cheaper.

This hour, On Point:  Social Security, the “chained CPI,” and how we’ll live beyond the fiscal cliff.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Henry Aaron, senior fellow of economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

Robert Kuttner, co-founder and current co-editor of The American Prospect. Here’s his recent article on Social Security and the fiscal cliff.

Jason Fichtner, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times “Conservatives argue that Washington never cuts programs, it just increases spending on them more slowly than planned. But to recipients of federal benefits, that type of “cut” can seem just as painful. That’s why there is an intense battle looming over a proposal to reduce the cost-of-living adjustments applied to numerous federal programs, including Social Security. The change is billed as a more accurate way to calculate the effects of inflation, but it’s really just a way to make Washington’s financial picture marginally brighter.”

Washington Post “The fiscal cliff deal is finally taking shape, and from the looks of it, it’s likely to include the adoption of “chained CPI” as the government’s preferred measure of inflation. As I explained last week, that measure mainly matters for taxes — where the income cutoffs for various brackets are indexed for inflation — and Social Security, in which benefits are raised annually to keep pace with inflation. Adopting chained CPI would, in effect, cut Social Security benefits and raise taxes.”

Christian Science Monitor “Mr. Obama’s move is an overture to Republicans who support the idea, as the two sides try to broker a deal that reduces future federal deficits with a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts. So what is the “chained CPI,” the revised consumer price index that Obama says could replace the current system?”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 19, 2014
Alan Gross, waves as he and his wife Judy leave following his statement at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after 5 years in a Cuban prison. (AP)

Cuba reset. Russia’s rubble troubles. School massacre in Pakistan. Jeb explores 2016. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Dec 19, 2014
Soledad, and from left, Nina Pastori, and Lila Downs perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Tribute honoring Joan Manuel Serrat at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)

From crossover hits to hip-hop to soul, we look at a big year in the wide world of Latin music.

RECENT
SHOWS
Dec 18, 2014
A poster for the movie "The Interview" is carried away by a worker after being pulled from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP)

A big Sony hack gets weirder and wider. And Hollywood and Homeland Security are on edge.

 
Dec 18, 2014
This handout photo from the Twitter account of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. shows Alan Gross arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The US and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday. (AP)

Following months of secret talks the US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than fifty years.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: December 19, 2014
Friday, Dec 19, 2014

Rage, shortlinks and things you people seem to be into, we guess. Also, Putin.

More »
Comment
 
Cosby Accuser Beverly Johnson: ‘He's A Black Man. I Had To Separate The Trayvon Martins, The Michael Browns From What Happened To Me’
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Beverly Johnson accused comedian Bill Cosby of drugging her in a high-profile Vanity Fair column. She tells us why she waited so long to share her story, and why it was even harder to share now.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: December 12, 2014
Friday, Dec 12, 2014

On listener engagement, the meeting of trans-Atlantic royalty and the elusive origins of the chicken. (We promise this feed hasn’t been taken over the BBC…yet)

More »
Comment