Progressive Caucus Head Rejects “Chained CPI” Cut in Social Security Benefits


December 18, 2012

Grijalva Rejects Potential Social Security Benefit Cuts Through “Chained CPI” in Latest Floated Year-End Financial Agreement

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the potential inclusion of a so-called chained Consumer Price Index feature in the latest floated version of a financial agreement.

“Federal law has always prohibited Social Security from contributing to the deficit. Any talk of shrinking the program to ‘save money’ is flawed from the start because Social Security is not part of the national budget in the same way as military spending – it’s paid for through a dedicated payroll tax separate from general budgeting.

“Some have suggested that Social Security benefits should be based on a chained Consumer Price Index (CPI), which assumes that when the price of one item rises, people buy something else – no matter how popular or necessary that original item might be. If this change goes into effect, Social Security benefits would stop reflecting the rising prices of popular goods.

“The average Social Security recipient rakes in a whopping $13,000 a year. If we pass chained CPI, projected annual cuts for a typical retiree would be about $560 a year by age 75, $984 a year by age 85 and $1,400 a year by age 95.

“The less money our Social Security recipients – including 9 million veterans – are able to spend, the less money goes to the businesses that create jobs. Chained CPI makes life harder for millions of retirees, weakens Social Security and doesn’t reduce the deficit by a penny. It’s a Beltway fig leaf that I will never support, and I call on my colleagues to make their feelings known as soon as possible before this becomes yet another piece of conventional wisdom that makes things worse.

“Lifting the cap on high earners paying into Social Security is a real fix that would make the program solvent indefinitely. If we want to talk about solutions, let’s talk about that, not inventing reasons to take money from American retirees.”

Snapshots of Ourselves, the Working Class

Who are the 23 Million ‘Underemployed’ Workers?

By Heidi Shierholz
Beaver County Blue via

Nov 28, 2012 – The number 23 million is often loosely used in public debate to mean the number of people “looking for work.”

But who does this number count and not count? First, it includes 12.3 million people who meet the official definition of unemployment: jobless workers who are actively seeking work.

Second, it includes the 8.3 million workers who are working part time but who want and are available for full-time work (“involuntary” part-timers).

Third, it includes the 2.5 million people who want a job and are available to work, but have given up actively seeking work (“marginally attached” workers). These three groups together—23.1 million strong—make up the group commonly referred to as the “underemployed.”

Who is not counted in that 23 million? Workers who are underemployed in a “skills or experience” sense (e.g., a mechanical engineer working as a barista). Unfortunately, there is no official measure that counts people who are underemployed in this way.

The figure below shows how the number of “underemployed” workers has evolved since 2000. The number of underemployed workers increased over the weak business cycle of 2000–2007 from 10.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2000 to 13.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. It then shot up in the Great Recession to a peak of 26.9 million in Oct. 2009 before modestly improving to its current level.