Just when you think “President” Donald Trump can’t possibly stoop any lower, he does. This time, he’s planning a “sneak attack” on Social Security. His recent budget proposal includes billions in Social Security cuts, breaking yet another campaign promise of not touching that program. What a shock. Fortunately, with the Democrats in control of the House, this budget will never pass. But Trump already has an answer for that, an answer that won’t require approval of the House: using chained CPI.
According to the Brookings Institute, chained CPI relies on monthly-released data to show consumer buying habits and is also used in determining tax brackets. In 2017 – when Trump’s tax changes were passed – chained CPI prevented income increases from pushing taxpayers into higher tax brackets, allegedly because increases typically reflect inflation. This thinking was erroneous. In fact, the change will increase tax brackets each year, and Americans will pay more taxes over the next ten years than we did under primary CPI. While rich people have numerous loopholes available to them to avoid taxes, especially with Trump getting rid of things like the estate tax, the rest of us will pay more taxes. What does this have to do with Social Security? A lot.
According to Salon, Trump wants to use chained CPI to change the federal definition of poverty. Over time, fewer people will reach the definition of poverty, which will ultimately disqualify them from federal benefits, such as Medicaid and food and housing assistance. Further, chained CPI will slowly remove adjustments to Social Security. The problem with this use of chained CPI is that Trump and the Republicans are slowly, silently beginning to apply it to everything, and it is only a matter of time before it is applied to Social Security – a program that Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney hates. Republicans have already begun to peek through that door, with Mitch McConnell frequently referring to Social Security as an “entitlement.” I guess old Mitch and his fat-cat friends have not had Social Security forcibly taken from their pay for their entire adult life like the rest of us. This is not an entitlement; it is a forced savings program, and I for one want my damned money.
Nancy Altman, the author of the Salon piece, points out what those of us with a brain already know: Trump distracts with his tweets, name-calling, and scandals so that he can tap into our Social Security to make up for the deficits he and his fellow Republicans have created. We cannot let this happen; we must remain informed. Read up on chained CPI and begin alerting others to it and what it means. Call your local papers, your congress members, and tell all your friends. We must expose what Trump is doing prior to the 2020 election. Surely, even his nutty supporters don’t want the government dipping into what they’ve worked their whole lives to amass for themselves. Even if they do, we outnumber them, and if we go all in, not only will our Social Security be left alone, we can get rid of Trump.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years