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April 10, 2013 3:08 PM Look Who’s Opposing Chained CPI Now

By Ed Kilgore

If you’ve been aware that the president’s “Chained CPI” proposal applies to tax bracket adjustments as well as to Social Security COLAs, perhaps this news from HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney won’t surprise you:

Members of Congress who have pledged never to raise taxes will be breaking their promise if they support changing how the government measures inflation for Social Security and tax purposes….
Americans for Tax Reform, the advocacy group that asks lawmakers to sign a formal “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” said Tuesday that chained CPI violates the pledge.
“Chained CPI as a stand-alone measure (that is, not paired with tax relief of equal or greater size) is a tax increase and a Taxpayer Protection Pledge violation,” the group said in a blog post.
Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, leader of the organization, criticized the policy via Twitter on Wednesday. “Chained CPI is a very large tax hike over time,” Norquist wrote. “Hence Democrat interest in same.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that chained CPI would reduce Social Security spending by $127 billion and increase tax revenue by $123 billion over 10 years.

Presumably this will spur congressional Republicans to make it clear they favor Chained CPI for spending, not for taxes, but that in turn will give the administration a chance to emphasize that it wouldn’t favor the former without the latter (i.e., it wouldn’t be “balanced”). Indeed, the White House would be smart to make this an absolute demand, and refuse to discuss one without the other. That would create two big speed bumps for any Social Security-only Chained CPI, since it ain’t happening at all without a budgetary “grand bargain” of the nature nearly all Republicans have been regularly ruling out.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Quaker in a Basement on April 10, 2013 3:40 PM:

    Well, if the government spends less, it should take in less, right?

    Deficit? Never heard of it!

  • max on April 10, 2013 4:08 PM:

    Indeed, the White House would be smart to make this an absolute demand, and refuse to discuss one without the other. That would create two big speed bumps for any Social Security-only Chained CPI

    Except that it does seem to be true that they want Chained CPI for taxes, they really really want it for Social Security. And they call that strengthening the program.

    I think they have honestly (and stupidly) bought into some part of the anti-social security bandwagon. So while they may wind up 'proving' what everyone already knows (that the R's won't raise taxes), they're going to wind up also proving they're economic conservatives. *Wobbly* economic conservatives.

    max
    ['This is a major problem. One hopes Hill has learned something from this.']

  • gregor on April 10, 2013 7:28 PM:

    Reminds me of the scene from Blazing Saddles.

    Except that they allow the afro-american to shoot himself.

  • zandru on April 11, 2013 3:52 PM:

    4-dimensional chess

    Okay. Now we have REPUBLICANS as well as lib Dems condemning chained CPI for Social Security recipients. It's a bipartisan consensus!!! This means chained CPI is basically dead!

    Well, we ought to make a big deal of proclaiming this, in my opinion. Obama knows that, whatever he's for, the Repubs will oppose. Thus, the President has included chained CPI in his plan as a sophisticated way of killing it.

    Cool.