Allen B. West

For the third time under Obama, no annual COLA increase in SSI benefits

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You can always tell when hypocrisy is in full swing because the liberal progressive media is silent. Imagine if social security benefits were cut during a Republican presidential administration — yes, I know, Armageddon. But if the same thing happens with a Democrat president, it will be spun as a very good thing. And so it goes.

As reported by Fox News, “For just the third time in 40 years, millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees can expect no increase in benefits next year, unwelcome news for more than one-fifth of the nation’s population. They can blame low gas prices.

By law, the annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is based on a government measure of inflation, which is being dragged down by lower prices at the pump. The government is scheduled to announce the COLA — or lack of one — on Thursday, when it releases the Consumer Price Index for September.

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Inflation has been so low this year that economists say there is little chance the September numbers will produce a benefit increase for next year. Prices actually have dropped from a year ago, according to the inflation measure used for the COLA. “It’s a very high probability that it will be zero,” said economist Polina Vlasenko, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. “Other prices — other than energy — would have to jump. It would have to be a very sizable increase that would be visible, and I don’t think that’s happened.”

Congress enacted automatic increases for Social Security beneficiaries in 1975, when inflation was high and there was a lot of pressure to regularly raise benefits. Since then, increases have averaged 4 percent a year. Only twice before, in 2010 and 2011, have there been no increases. In all, the COLA affects payments to more than 70 million Americans. Almost 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is $1,224. The COLA also affects benefits for about 4 million disabled veterans, 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors, and more than 8 million people who get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the disability program for the poor. Many people who get SSI also receive Social Security.”

Now what exactly is the consumer price index (CPI)? It’s defined as an index of the variation in prices paid by typical consumers for retail goods and other items.

The Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison states, “Consumer Price Index (CPI)…is a measure of the average change over time in the price paid by urban households for a set of consumer goods and services. The expenditure items are classified into some 200 categories that are arranged into eight groups (e.g., food and beverages or medical care). The percent change in the CPI provides a measure of inflation. The CPI reflects the spending patterns of each of two population groups: all-urban consumers and urban wage earners and clerical workers, which include professionals, the self-employed, the unemployed, and poor persons. The all-urban group represents about 87 percent of the U.S. population.”

There have been other times when gas prices were low — why didn’t we have corresponding effects on the COLA then? And you have to ask yourselves, why has this only occurred two times previously — all under the same administration of Barack Obama?

Could it be that COLA is being manipulated in order to be the bill payer for the fiscal irresponsibility of the Obama administration? What if you’re a senior who doesn’t drive, what difference, at this point, do lower gas prices make? Now, we know SSI is programmed to run out of funds next year, and why has that happened during the Obama administration?

Has the incredible growth of SSI enrollees been to the detriment of those who truly need SSI benefits? We did a study on this at the National Center for Policy Analysis led by Senior Fellow Pamela Villareal – it would shock you which age group has increased in receiving SSI – which, by the way folks, is paid out at a 100 percent rate, unlike the military disability retirement payment scheme which has graduated percentages.

But what is very disconcerting for seniors is, as Fox reports, “the lack of a COLA means that older people could face higher health care costs. Most have their Medicare Part B premiums for outpatient care deducted directly from their Social Security payments, and the annual cost-of-living increase is usually enough to cover any rise in premiums. When that doesn’t happen, a long-standing federal “hold harmless” law protects the majority of beneficiaries from having their Social Security payments reduced.

But that leaves about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries on the hook for a premium increase that otherwise would be spread among all. Those who would pay the higher premiums include 2.8 million new beneficiaries, 1.6 million whose premiums aren’t deducted from their Social Security payments and 3.1 million people with higher incomes. Their premiums could jump by about $54 a month, or 50 percent. Those with higher incomes would pay even larger amounts.”

So what ends up happening is a redistribution of the cost increase. Instead of spreading the wealth, we get targeted punishment. And why don’t we hear this being touted all over the alphabet soup liberal progressive media? Simple, Obama is their guy who can absolutely do no wrong. And the abundance of the oil and natural gas being produced is not a result of Obama policies. Quite the contrary, the oil and gas boon has been on state and private lands. The federal government is doing all it can to impede the expansion of our energy exploration — we have a map that tracks fracking restrictions on our NCPA website.

Where are the videos of Grandma being pushed off the cliff? Our seniors are going to get hit hard and what happens next year when SSI runs out? And if you haven’t paid attention to your Social Security benefits assessment statement, check out the fine print that tells you by 2035 it will only be paying $0.77 on the dollar. How nice.

Perhaps it’s time to revamp the calculations that go into the CPI. Maybe we should reassess the eight most critical groups for consumer expenditures. Perhaps we need to make this more specific towards respective demographic groups and include income levels. Making the decision that because gas prices are low, seniors, retirees and disabled vets wont receive a COLA increase seems rather static in its analysis. And even worse, it seems only certain groups will bear the brunt of this. Then again, this is part of Obama’s fundamental transformation of America — spreading the wealth. With its 20 new taxes, the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act — proven neither to protect patients nor be affordable — is little more than a wealth redistribution scheme. And so it appears in this case.

I hope folks are remembering all these “firsts” in the Obama administration because you can rest assured when there’s a GOP president, the media will scream.

I shall end with these appropriate quotes from Sir Winston Churchill (remember, the fella who had his bust removed by Obama from the Oval Office): “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy… The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Obama’s policies have brought about failure due to the collective public ignorance, advanced by the rhetoric of envy, resulting in our sharing of misery.

Say WHAT? Trump does it AGAIN...

Say WHAT? Trump does it AGAIN...

HA: Walmart makes a decision liberals will LOVE

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