Mike Koszcal has efficiently pulled together all the relevant arguments in favor of the Chained-CPI — and then very properly demolishes them one by one. He takes on the idea that that it’s a more accurate measure of the cost of living (which, if true, would mean that it wouldn’t require all these “fixes” to keep the elderly out of poverty), the idea that it’s no big deal, “not much a cut so nobody will really notice”, and the daft idea that we’ll be able to “fix” it down the road, the most fatuous argument of all.
But this gets to the fundamental stupidity of the politics:
You’ll hear arguments that a Grand Bargain is necessary, so it’s better to bring Social Security into long-term balance now, with Democrats at the helm, than in the future, when there will be less time and an uncertain governance coalition. You can get fewer cuts and more revenue than you would otherwise and take the issue off the table for the foreseeable future to concentrate on other priorities.
But if that’s your idea, then this is a terrible deal and sets a terrible precedent, because this deal would accomplish none of your goals. You’d cut Social Security without putting in any new revenue. And it wouldn’t be sufficient to close the long-term gap, so the issue would stay on the table. Indeed, the deficit hawks would probably be emboldened, viewing this as a “downpayment” on future cuts, and require any future attempts to get more revenue for Social Security, say by raising the payroll tax cap, to involve significant additional cuts.
Indeed it would.
This is the real point of this according to the CPBB, the head of which