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One simple, controversial fiscal cliff fix
Inside the Capitol, the idea of changing the US measure of inflation is getting more attention.
December 13th, 2012
11:11 AM ET

One simple, controversial fiscal cliff fix

By Lisa Desjardins, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @LisaDCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – As Congress and the White House fight over every billion in revenue and spending cuts, there is some $200 billion in savings on the table that many economists insist is a no-brainer.

The idea is to simply change how the US calculates inflation from the current Consumer Price Index measures  to one that is arguably more accurate, the chained CPI.

Over a decade, the change could save the government billions in spending tied to inflation, notably cost of living adjustments for federal retirees and Social Security recipients.

[3:28]  "That’s the funny thing about this policy. If we enacted it, nobody would notice."

- Marc Goldwein, senior policy director, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Advocates for seniors and retirees passionately disagree.

[3:42] "Perhaps you would not feel it so much over the next year or two but over the long term is when it’s really going to hurt."

- Elaine Hughes, retired Dept. of Energy employee and National Secretary for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

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soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. JT

    Please sign my Whitehouse petition to change the federal tax system-http://wh.gov/nZ4w

    December 19, 2012 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. Liberty Guy

    Wow got to end this post. I bet those d!cks in D.C. are like thank god for the Connecticut shooter cause now we can go back do doing what ever the hell we want and no one will notice. Kinda makes you wander doesn't it....

    December 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tibs

    Inflation is not rising prices. It is an expanding money supply. Rising prices is merely an effect of inflation.

    Get out of the dollar while you can.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa Desjardins

      Fair point, but in the story I intentionally spoke of how the US "measures inflation". CPI is a measure of inflation.

      December 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. treblemaker

    I agree with Joe R and his common sense views. There are two sides to this argument that are never mentioned, and it has nothing to do with money. On one side are those who assume the responsibility to work for themselves, take care of themselves and/or their loved ones, without depending on others for their wage. On the other side are those who expect to be taken care of throughout their lives. This means attaching your livelihood to someone or something else, whether it's a large company, a union, or a government entitlement. Those who are wealthy (the beneficiaries of our capitalist system) have a MORAL obligation to help those less fortunate without breaking themselves. That's what's missing today.
    On the other side, those who receive entitlements have a MORAL obligation to become productive on their own. otherwise they're nothing more than an adult version of children depending on the "parent" government. President Clinton's "welfare to work" program was a big step, which started us on the right path to the surplus he left us with.

    America's debt is just a reflection of all of us-living way beyond our means without the proper revenue coming in to balance the books. No one cares, as long as we get what we want-and get it NOW!! Everyone else, including the consequences of our actions, be damned. The day of reckoning is upon us, and whoever is ready to accept their medicine will survive. Otherwise, you fall by the wayside, and then you are truly on your own for the first time.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • sos

      Very well said, Rebel. There is plenty of blame to go around. We are a compassionate nation and feel responsible to aid those in need. But I get the feeling we have way too many people abusing the system and our government has "enabled" these folks to game the system. So entitlement programs need to be better administered and more incentives created for people to get out and start pulling their own weight whenever possible. But there is also WAY too much wasteful spending in all facets of government and I strongly believe that the buck should stop at Congress. Let them start to set the example as to how we can rein in excessive spending. For starters, I don't believe in career politicians.
      Give them all one 6 year term. Do the best you can, then move on. No campaigning after you are elected. No government pension. Collect on social security based on your lifetime earnings just as every other citizen. Receive the same healthcare options as every ordinary citizen. Same goes for the President. The mandate should be that the government is conducted just as every household is run.....you can't spend any more than you have. Adjust accordingly
      We are still the strongest and free-est nation in the world.......WE CAN DO THIS!.
      .

      December 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • DellStator

      Well enough said. If you can't take care of yourself, you go by the wayside. That would be the gutter at the side of the road outside your place, where those who can't take of themselves go to pass away quietly, if not invisibly. Everyone that insists the government has no role in caring for those who can't care for themselves must realize the option is bodies, in card board boxes under highway over passes, in heatless homes, etc.. It means more sick and diseased people among us, to put it bluntly, spreading contagion. It means your parents wasting away when you get fired from that job you slaved away at for 20 yrs. When you're unemployed and there are 5 people chasing every job, when you're over 50 and no one will hire you for an even, or especially an entry level job, much rather a good job, instead hiring whatever friend of a friend needs a gig, instead of the best qualified, like you. Well then get back to me and tell me the governemnt should let you waste away. The labor market is now permanently stacked against workers, and just about 1 out of 10 can't get a job, or get one that pays enough to pay the rent, get married, or worst / most expensive, have children. ONE OUT OF TEN OF ALL WORKERS. The problem isn't Americans who don't want to work. 12 million WERE working, want to, but our gov't bribed by big business and the rich execs and owners have made it so they make more at the expense of MOST Americans, and with no thought to the harm it does to our country, our way of life, our ideals.

      December 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve Hamilton

      I was the CFO of several successful companies over a 25 year period, and among the things I learned is that there is never a simple solution to a complex problem. This proposal sticks it to the retirees, and the disabled – like veterans who have lost limbs in the service of their country. The "solution" says, change a formula so you pay retirees and the handicapped less money. And then some jamoke (I forget who) says people receiving entitlements have a moral obligation to do whatever they can to stop receiving them. I paid into the Social Security pension system for over 50 years. Why does any rational person think that I should not receive the money I am contractually entitled to? Also, in my case, I had to close a successful consulting business because of medical malpractice performed by the Johnson & Johnson Company who sold a defective artificial hip that was installed in me. I can no longer work for medical reasons, and there are a lot of people just like me, who would like to return to work, if possible, but cannot because of problems caused by someone else.BTW, I don't pay any income tax. Why not? Because my annual income is so low it is below the taxable income threshold. Romney says that makes me a "moocher". It's no big mystery why Mitt lost. He may have been a very effective CEO of a private equity company, but he's short on the gray matter to make such a sweeping indictment of thousands of Americans, with out any understanding or consideration of the underlying factors as to why a lot of people don't pay taxes

      December 14, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • RangeRover

        Steve, if you were a CFO for several successful companies over a 25 year period, yet you did not have sufficient assets or insurance to deal with your inability to work? Did you ever intend to take care of yourself or did expect someone else to do it from day one?

        December 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. michelle

    Our 'great' politicians want to cut just about everything from we the legal taxpayers, yet they won't cut by at least 50% THEIR salaries, THEIR retirements, THEIR medical, THEIR foreign revenue deals.........since they want to 'lead by example', they need to start with that first, or they (our 'great' gov't/politicians) just needs to accept the fact that they're nothing more than moral cowards, thugs and punks, and its little wonder that most USA taxpayers can't stand them – at this point, it may be better to put a bullet into most of the Demonrats/Relieorats/Independentrats – they sure as heck aren't doing anything for 'we, the USA taxpayers'!!!

    December 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slaythedonkey

      How corrrect yuo are!!!

      December 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve Hamilton

      In the last poll of least trustworthy persons I saw, politicians ranked just above used car salesmen, which I think is a slur on the people who sell used cars. I like your idea, but unfortunately it has little chance of coming to fruition, because under the Constitution, the politicians would have to vote to cut their own throats. I think the Tooth Fairy will get her own reality show before that happens.

      December 14, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. J Row

    Amazing commentary from these leaders you keep sending back to Washington to spend your money. Here's a novel consideration for these "keepers" of the budget! Along with the percentile cuts in medicaid, medicare, social security, ect. lets see some percentile reduction in the cost of operation's for the Senate and the House starting with caps on the amount of money these elected officials can pay themselves or spend on their office and upfront reductions (say 8%) in salary factored in over the term of service. Give it up folks if you want to take it back! Vote against incumbency and help save this nation and a constitution created by God fearing people.

    December 14, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. William W

    This is one of my favorite comments section I have seen! People are saying many insightful things and debating just like I imagine the founding fathers wanted it. Congress with just vote the Fiscal Cliff budget out of existence. The next few hours will vindicate my prediction.

    December 14, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa Desjardins

      I agree. This is the kind of thing we're trying to get going with our more in-depth stories. More in-depth discussions. Keep checking CNNRadio.com. *shameless promo, but worthwhile*

      December 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve Hamilton

      I disagree completely. Congress is going to leave DC a week form today to go home for Christmas, because that's what is really important to them. We will slide over the cliff and hurt hundreds of thousands of Americans, like the poor folks who will run out of unemployment payments. then, all of our legislators will return in the first week of January and the Republican freshmen will rebel against any deal that Boehner and the president reach. This fiscal cliff problem will likely not get "fixed" until January is over.

      December 14, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Spanglish

    The best fix to get a President for Americans not for personal interests, for the people not for the Unions, for the well being , not for the ill being, for security , not for insecurity, for non violence , not for violence..

    December 14, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • kurtinco

      We should thanks our lucky stars that we've elected one: President Obama.

      December 14, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
      • Steve Hamilton

        I couldn't agree more. I think that ordinary citizens would have been slammed by the R&R team.It's interesting to me that both of these guys profess to be Christians, but their opinions and acts are totally contrary to everything Jesus taught and preached. Can you imagine Jesus saying, "make sure you protect the really rich people, by insuring that they pay a smaller percentage of their income than poor or ordinary people do". Ryan's plan to solve a long term financing problem for Medicare by charging America's poorest citizens more for health care is the most unChristian concept I have ever read about or heard of. And Romney lapped it up like a Kitten with a bowl of milk.

        December 14, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. datadoggie

    Here's an idea: Try legislating.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. Stop the war.

    Stop the war.

    December 14, 2012 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Stop the war.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN4Uu0OlmTg&w=640&h=390]

      Christmas (The War is Over. If you want to.) ~ John Lennon

      December 14, 2012 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
      • Stop the war.

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN4Uu0OlmTg&w=640&h=360]

        December 14, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
        • Stop the war.

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN4Uu0OlmTg&w=420&h=315]

          December 14, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Stop the war.

      it won't embed. sorry.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. rao

    To me the real problem in america is not rich vs poor or who gets taxed more. as long as the money remains in the country and is not sitting in some one's mattress but being circulated constantly there should not be a real problem. The rich man's true consumption is how much of natural resources they consume in a given day. The bigger problem is when america's money is flowing to outside countries. That is not going to change whether you tax the rich more or you tax the rich less. I really doubt money circulation is a problem as there is really no incentive to saving in this country. The real fix is ensure that we make US people buy US made products or atleast be able to sell more US products to outside countries than what US buys from other countries.

    December 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Oscar Pitchfork

    Nothing that solves the problem is going to get any support from the Rebublicans. They want the current status quo of turmoil and constant uproar to continue, because it's the only way they can continue to rail against the President and anything he has to say. If any kind of bi-partisan peace is ever achieved, the ensuing calm will have many of the brainless neo-repubs and the thick-lipped followers wondering what they were so upset about, and they're likely to wander away...

    December 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark LM

      Oscar, If you think the Democrats have any answers with more deficit spending, more entitlements for votes, you are clueless.

      What America needs is a flat tax, less spending, and bring our jobs home. Anything short of that will lead us to socialism and more job losses. You can not spend your way out of a mess, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and if you tax the rich, they will go some place else, or shelter their money.

      Lets stop demonizing the successful. If you get rid of them, we are all worse off. We are all Americans, and we all have value.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • Landa

        It would be nice if things were as simple as you make them. The compromise that needs to happen between the Congress and the White House is only the beginning of the changes we need in this country. The Fiscal Cliff as it is called is the tip of the ice berg. However, you can't make progress unless you start somewhere. The Republicans come to the press conference talking about spending cuts. The Democrats come to the conference talking about tax hikes. What each side needs to do, is come to the American people with a plan that includes both. No one ever turned down additional revenue. I know I wouldn't in my budget. The Republicans need to accept the tax hikes and the Democrats need to find more spending cuts to propose. That next step is simple. If they can't stop posturing in front of the cameras and do that, we are hopelessly headed for another deep recession. The progress, although small, will disappear.

        December 14, 2012 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
    • rao

      To me the real problem in america is not rich vs poor or who gets taxed more. as long as the money remains in the country and is not sitting in some one's mattress but being circulated constantly there should not be a real problem. The rich man's true consumption is how much of natural resources they consume in a given day. The bigger problem is when america's money is flowing to outside countries. That is not going to change whether you tax the rich more or you tax the rich less. I really doubt money circulation is a problem as there is really no incentive to saving in this country. The real fix is ensure that we make US people buy US made products or atleast be able to sell more US products to outside countries than what US buys from other countries.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • JR

      The problem is spending. And spending foolishly. The government knows it has nobody to stop them from spending. If they spend too much they just ask for me from the taxpayers. This problem is not limited to the federal level but the states as well Difference being the states are now doing something about it because they can't print money to get out. You don't like getting your state taxes raised you move to Texas. The feds can raise taxes on us all. Then continue to give money to Pakistan and other countries who hate us. If I were a millionaire I wouldn't mind giving more if it wasn't being wasted. Democrats want to give things away so why wouldn't you vote for them? Well if you had any sense you would know that in order to give you something for nothing, somebody had to pay for it. Just tax Bill Gates more, he can afford it right? That thinking would make me want to go out and work my butt off and become successful taking risks along the way. Then my rewards for my risks and success can be divided up to those who want to sit and watch daytime tv. Sounds like a strong nation to me!

      December 14, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
      • pablo

        I agree that federal spending is absurdly high and has been for the past 12 years in particular, but I really don't think that letting the bush tax cuts expire on the top earners is demonizing the wealthy or would kill one's motivation to succeed. To me, the single biggest political myth that has been perpetuated in the past few years is this idea that a higher tax rate on the wealthy kills job creation or demotivates one to make more money for fear of higher taxes. There is simply no historical (or current) evidence to support this idea (look at tax rates in the '50s and see if that 'killed jobs'). I believe that all Bush tax cuts should expire, but that it should begin with the wealthy and should only expire on the lower income earners once consumer confidence and spending return to consistent pre-recession levels. Additionally, we need to make serious spending cuts, beginning with Medicaid and Medicare (not doing away with, just cutting) and ending with significant defense cuts. People hate this idea but they should not hate it as much as the idea of skyrocketing debt or a default, which would eventually necessitate much deeper cuts to these programs than what are currently on the table. It's time for us to get our act together and all make some sacrifices (yes on both sides) if we profess to truly care at all about this country of ours.

        December 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Todd Nelson

    Whether it be tax increases or budget cuts it seems as though it is okay as long as it does not pertain to you or I. Fact is our government needs to live within a budget as do most Americans. Taxes need to fair to all but they certainly far from it. America is no longer in the position to fund all of the programs within the federal budget. All things pertaining to taxes and spending need to be "on the table". If this was your household budget what would you do? Myself and most Americans would cut out want is not absolutely necessary increase their income however possible with overtime or a part-time job. If and when extra money is available then you can consider what to spend it on not before.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Publius Novus

    Regardless of whether it is a no-brainer, the bottom line is this–recipients of benefits will receive less.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonnie3

      And that is the way it should be.

      December 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John the Historian

    One of the causes of the French Revolution was the rich and the churches did not pay taxes. Real simple. Unfortunately one of the causes of the American Revolution was the founding fathers did not want to pay taxes to England and wanted to eliminate their debt to England and didn't want to pay for their own defense. No to cuts for Entitlements. Trump, Willard, Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch could probably pay off our debt real quick.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff R

      Not enough rich people. Warren Buffett sent $30K to the US treasury this past year. Where did it go? Everybody will need to suck it up and we will need to spread the misery across the electorate. For our kid's sake. I dont remember my parents or grandparents who went through the depression leaving our generation with a large debt so they could live beyond their means. We need to model that now for the next generation.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark LM

      So the French Revolution helped France.

      Sorry, if you penalize the successful, you become a socialist, and you lose everything.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Ares

    Won't happen. Many Union labor contracts have wage increases tied to CPI.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark LM

      Ares, I think the companies held down by unions will fall one by one, just like Hostess. You will not compete with the world tomorrow if you kill productivity.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • sonnie3

        Bingo, That is a no brainer, Where is our leadership in Washington, must out to lunch.

        December 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Joe R

    I really don't understand what is so difficult. I have bills to pay every month. If it exceeds my income I go into debt. I can reduce my spending & lower my bills. I can get a second job and increase my income. Or both. But I would be totally stupid if I get a second job and then increase my spending more than that. I just go deeper in debt.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      You kinda listed the problem. We went into debt, and we just kept going into debt. Since Reagan we have been running a massive deficit in our budget, with the exception of a few years at the end of the Clinton administration. Now we are about too default if we don't raise the debt ceiling in Febuary, and no one can agree on a way to get our budget in order. Honestly, going over the fiscal cliff would be us tightening our belts really tight. They say this could send the country back into recession. It is a balancing act, dealing with our bloated debt while minimizing the damage to our ailing economy. People like me and you can see this because we are on the ground. Republican and Democrat leaders have their noses too deep in Ayn Ryand and Thomas Paine respectively too see what is staring them in the face.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
      • darkbraincomics

        "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." – Dick Cheney

        December 14, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  18. Joe Seattle

    Wow, we can lower inflation just by changing the way we calculate the CPI. After all, the CPI already excludes housing, food, gasoline, and has downward adjustments for technological improvements to products. But none of those things affect people's cost of living, of course.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe R

      Maybe we can re calculate the tax rate too.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      The CPI includes the cost of food, energy and housing even if you don't like it.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Kagnew

    Sorry to both "Simple Minded" and "MCV". Democrats passed legislation requiring all Social Security excess revenues over payouts to be lent to the Federal Government in exchange for future promissory notes. This masked the true Federal operating deficit for years until Social Security payouts began to exceed revenues. Now, those notes have to be paid back to Social Security with funds from the Federal operating budget – thereby contributing to the current deficit.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • MVanBuren

      So they are correct, SS doesn't add to the deficit, the borrowing from previous years add to the yearly deficit.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe R

      It doesn't matter which pocket I take my money out of to pay for something

      December 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  20. The Transaction Tax

    I thought this was going to be something useful like "The Transaction Tax" or "Automatic Payment Transaction Tax" - it reduces rates dramatically, eliminates loopholes, replaces all other Federal Taxes - and funds our obligations fully.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Cheese Wonton

    Chain weighting of inflation has been used by economists for a couple of decades now because it is a more accurate way to measure inflation. The old way of inflating spending from a base year out to future years becomes more inaccurate the farther from the base year you go. Chain weighting is pretty much the same thing as a moving average. If you understand the superiority of a moving average, then you understand the superiority of chain weighted inflation indicies.
    It's not an evil plot, it is good mathematics.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Richard Becker

    Lets raise taxes on the rich . They won't notice it.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonnie3

      To get rid of the Goose that lays golden eggs is not they way to go. The rich already pay a large, large, large share of all taxes paid. And entitlements are the leaches of society.

      December 13, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  23. John

    "That’s the funny thing about this policy. If we enacted it, nobody would notice."

    What's even funnier is that if nobody would notice, then how would you verify there was any beneficial effect?

    December 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheese Wonton

      Easy. Calculate infaltion weighted spending using the chain weighted index and compare this to a calculation of spending using the current method. It is a very easy thing to do on an Excel spreadsheet.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Simple Minded

    Another dumb idea from the simple minded. 70% of Social Security receipts depend on Social Security as their primary or exclusively as their sole source of income, somehow it makes sense to the simple minded that those most likely struggling to make ends meet should bear the burden. Social security does not contribute a single penny to the deficit and is in fact a source of borrowing revenue for the Federal Government.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sparkle

      You're wrong. The federal budget picks up the difference between what's being paid in and what's being paid out over the long term.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dave Eddleman

        Frankly, If you gave most Seniors and option that had worked all their lives and contributed, and with the matching funds their employers had put in, compounded over the 43 years they worked, the average senior who retired in 2008 would have paid in approximately $387k including the inflation adjustment + 2% compounded interest added. Their employer matched this, so $774K was theirs. 5% has been and is an extemely poor return. Compounded at 4 % over 43 years, they had, in the account to be thier money upon retirement $1.13million total. for medical expense and living expenses.

        How many do you think wouldn't have taken a lump-sum payout of THEIR money if it wouldn't have bankrupted the US, since their expected total payout over the balance of their lives is $733K? I think there's been enought of their money stolen from them already.

        Where's the other $280k ? The drug addicts in the 1990's qualified for SSI, I know 1 that's still partying like a rock star on his, (and I do mean ROCK star) Disabled children's parents recieve lifetime SSI for their kids if they live with them. I know a foster parents who got 1600/month X 6 kids caring for disabled kids, plus all medical and food overpaid for them. They were debating on taking on another to buy 2 new escalades. know a woman who got too fat to walk, broke her leg, and cant work at all. She qualified for SSI. I know 20~30 something adults diagnosed with ADHD, schitz, bipolar, OCD, etc. They qualified for them. The SS Depts. operations/overhead budget is $9 billion.

        If SS had been used for the Seniors, and only the Senoirs that paid into it as it was intended, and not raided by congress for true "entitlement" spending, our country would be filthy rich. Without the $9B overhead to employ "No Value Added" federal Employees to decide who qualifies for the other forms and who doesn't, the system could be automated. This would never happen, because there are too many federal employees to get rid of them, and too many lawyers sucking off of fighting for the additional styles of benefits, however, as far as cutting more money in payouts, we've already stolen close to 20% of their money they entrusted us to hold for safe-keeping, are we really going to steal so much we starve them out?

        I guess young Liberal's desires to spend more money to save the spotted owls of this earth outweighs their grandparent's need to eat.

        December 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
        • Kelly

          The average person receiving SS has gone through their contribution and their employers allowing for a 5% annual return in seven years. Then they are just coasting free, and if they have have a spouse who never paid in they're making off like bandits.

          December 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
        • facts hurt if you are a republican

          The maximum social security check is $2360 a month. The average is $1,230 a month. The average lifespan in the USA is 78.1. That means the average person will get 13 years of benefits. 13 years at the maximum benefit is $368,000. 13 years at the average benefit is $191,880. during a lifetime at work the wage scales have changed but a median wage earner who entered the workforce at age 22 and retired at age 65 in 2011 would have payed in $294,000 in Social security taxes and actually will collect $103,000 less than they pay in udring their lifetime. The Cost drain comes from the Disablity side of the payouts. That is where the conversation needs to be had. Simply cutting benefits is not a real option. Costs have to be lowered. Obamacare is a start but there is much more work to do. Strengthening workplace regulations so that companies cannot use up their employees bodies and leave us holding the bill when they become worn out and disabled at age 40 is a necesary component. Increasing R&D into cures for some of the diseases that cause long term disability is another compnent. we need to spend money now to save it later instead of saving nickels now but spending dollars later

          December 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
        • michelle

          I can see the logic what you're saying.....I used to be on SS because of my disability – I have a hearing impairment plus a learning disability. However, now the guidelines are that 'since I can walk/talk in a somewhat understandable way, I don't need SS for my disability. However, if you're a drug addict, you can get disability. Eventually, it will end, because our 'great' gov't/politicians will cut from what the people need before they cut their salaries.

          December 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      What's wrong with reforming the program? Nothing, one clean it up and stop letting people on it that never paid into it, two were living longer, up retirement by two years, and three, stop uncle dufuss from raiding it. Applies to both parties.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • michelle

        Why raise up retirement by two years when it will mostly hurt the workers who are in low-income jobs, that will need it the most? That's not right. Those in higher paying jobs can afford the two years; whereas the low-income workers can't . The only way that would be fair is that those workers who are in low-income jobs get retirement benefits double what the high-income workers would get upon retirement. After all, its the low-income workers who do the dirty work that the rich/high-income workers don't and won't get themselves dirty to do.

        December 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
        • Tom

          Michelle by raising retirement by two or three year to adjust for longer lifespans, you would be able to put more money into the system. Thus, not adding burden to younger folks who will be forced to plan for retirement with very little expectation of receiving the money they put in. Also, low income people already receive well more than their share of social security. Since there is a maximum amount you can receive each month, any wealthy person has put substantially more than they would ever get back. The joke is that corporate "fat cats" don't work hard. Very few people in the US are wealthy via inheritance. Most of these people have been working 60-80 hour weeks and received Bachelors and/or graduate degrees. Your accomplishment or lack of accomplishments are on you and thus you reap the benefits or lack of benefits.

          December 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • RyanAZ

      The taxpayers pick up the shortfall dummy

      December 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • facts hurt if you are a republican

        There is and has never been a shortfall in Social Security dummy. We have borrowed the annual surplus FROM Social security every year. It has not ben taken it has been borrowed. The trust fund has a 2.7 trillion surplus in the form of US treasury bonds which are real and are backed by the full faith and credit of the USA. in 2011 Social security took in 68 bilion more than it spent. The 2034 year they talk about is not when it goes broke. That is the year that money in will equal money out if NOTHING is done

        December 14, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • MCV

      SS does not contribute to the deficit. It does however contribute to the national debt, by the government borrowing from itself.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy

      Anyone who planned on SS being enough in retirement needs to life of other family members, not the taxpayers

      December 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • MVanBuren

      Actually, when SS/medicare/medicaid/CHP is collecting it's full percentage, it brings in more than it pays out.
      2011-with 2% less total revenue was about 1trillion
      cost was just over 1 trillion.

      most years it brought in more revenue then it spent, but that money was kept in the fund, it was spent by our congress, year in and year out.

      Didn't I hear someone talking about a lockBox for SS/Medicare? Who was that?

      December 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonnie3

      Problem there in is that Government pays with new printed money, or stimulus or quanitive easing and floating bonds???

      December 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Smith

      70% of Social Security recipients have no other source of income?

      1) Why not? Didn't they think about saving for retirement? Or were they planning on living off the government? Why should I have to support someone who was irresponsible and didn't bother to SAVE for retirement.

      2) That means that 30% DO have other sources of income. Retired individuals with with large IRA's, savings and pensions should STOP mooching off taxpayers and support themselves. It's social SECURITY, not a government pension plan, and was never intended to be distibuted to EVERYONE regardless of how rich they are. The height of injustice is MY CURRENT social security payments going to cover greens fees for some retired IBM executive living in a condo in Florida....

      JS

      JS

      December 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Corwin

    Bottom line if it wasn't just another way of cutting seniors social security it wouldn't be being pitched as "savings" now would it?

    December 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Elbonian

    A better proposal for inflation adjustments to Social Security benefit payments would be an entirely different cost-of-living index which measures specifically what seniors spend their money on. This would over-weight things like medical costs, food, and housing and under-weight or eliminate things like school costs. Either of the current CPI measures leaves seniors short-changed after 10+ years of adjustments.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Critical Thinker

    Here is a no brainer for CNN, cut Lisa Desjardins' pay and you will be more profitable.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Dan

    Here is a simple fix.

    STOP WASTING SO MUCH OF OUR MONEY!!!!!!

    December 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elbonian

      Obama can't spend one cent that is not appropriated by the Republican-controlled House. And the Constitution clearly requires all spending (appropriation) bills to originate in that same Republican-controlled House. So, if you are upset at spending by the federal government, you have only one legitimate target for your anger: the Republican-controlled House!

      December 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan

        Someone has a slanted view of things. I am upset with both parties.

        December 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
        • Elbonian

          Sure. I'm fine with that. I'm also upset with both parties. But if the issue is spending, the Republicans have been in control of every single penny spent by the federal government since they took control of Congress in January, 2011. Any wasteful spending is thus their fault as well.

          December 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • abundzu

        So by your logic, the democratic controlled house from 2006-2010 was responsible for what again... Or was that all just Bush's fault... I prefer the angry at both sides approach.

        December 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • John in WNY

        So your saying that the deficits in Bush's last term are the fault of the Democrats that controlled the House, and that the surplus that left lays are Clinton's feet was actually thanks to the GOP controlled House?

        I wouldn't completely disagree, although it's a bit over simplistic, but I've long held that Congress loves to blame the President, ANY President, for spending and everything else but of course they are the ones who pass the bills.

        December 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Joe R

        It still needs to be signed by the democrat controlled senate and the President

        December 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan M

        That's old-hat partisanship. People root for these parties like sports teams instead of talking ideas they blame each other. Saying Republicans are responsible for spending is wishful thinking and more blame deflecting. Both parties are spendaholics that are destroying the country. Remember how ObamaCare was rammed through? The President needs to lead on this issue while people like you seek to deflect blame. Repubs and Dems are both wrong in some ways, both right in other ways while their lemmings banter like drunk sports fans.

        December 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  29. rohug

    That's not a fix in reality it is only a paper fix.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      True. It is just playing with numbers.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • RyanAZ

        The reduction would decrease the actual expenditures

        December 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Get Real

    The CPI needs to be calculated on real cost of living.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank Ch. Eigler

      That's so common sense, there must be something wrong with it.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe R

      At least inflation is under control and we dont have to worry about that down the road.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
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