The White House and prominent Democrats are talking about reducing future Social Security payments by using a formula for adjusting for inflation that's stingier than the current one. It'scalled the "Chained CPI." I did this video so you can understand it -- and understand why it's so wrongheaded.
Even Social Security's current inflation adjustment understates the true impact of inflation on the elderly. That's because they spend 20 to 40 percent of their incomes on health care, and health-care costs have been rising faster than inflation. So why adopt a new inflation adjustment that's even stingier than the current one?
Social Security benefits are already meager for most recipients. The median income of Americans over 65 is less than $20,000 a year. Nearly 70 percent of them depend on Social Security for more than half of this. The average Social Security benefit is less than $15,000 a year.
Besides, Social Security isn't in serious trouble. The Social Security trust fund is flush for at least two decades. If we want to ensure it's there beyond that, there's an easy fix -- just lift the ceiling on income subject to Social Security taxes, which is now $113,700.
Why are Democrats even suggesting the inflation adjustment be reduced? Republicans aren't asking for it. Not even Paul Ryan's draconian budget includes it.
Democrats invented Social Security and have been protecting it for almost 80 years. They shouldn't be leading the charge against it.
ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage," now available in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.