That $250 check for seniors is a bad idea

October 15, 2009

The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities comes out against that $250 payment to seniors:

Under current law, there will be no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in Social Security in 2010 — the first time that has happened since automatic cost-of-living adjustments began in 1975. Several bills before Congress would grant a special increase in Social Security payments for 2010.

The inflation data, however, do not support an increase: overall consumer prices have fallen significantly in the past year and are not expected to return to their earlier peak until mid-2011. In addition, when no Social Security COLA is provided, Medicare Part B premiums — which are deducted from Social Security checks — are frozen for most beneficiaries so that the Social Security checks do not drop (see the box on page 5).

If policymakers nevertheless choose to act, they should grant a flat, one-time payment as an economic stimulus measure rather than an across-the-board percentage increase that undermines the mechanics and purpose of Social Security’s indexing provisions.

Me: I think that $250 actually depresses me more than the $1.5 trillion spent over the past year to deal with the downturn.  A total lack of willingness to be straight with America about its fiscal situation.

Stan Collender has some thoughts on this:

My recollection is that the automatic cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security was put in place so that members of Congress would not be tempted to adopt legislation that provided a larger-than-inflation increase every year.  That temptation proved to too much for most members so the “look ma no hands” approach was adopted.

Does anyone think that this won’t be the most bipartisan vote of the year in the House and Senate?

I’m guessing 430 to 5 in the House and 96 to 3 in the Senate.

6 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Right!! I comment as a certified old codger…as if $5 a week makes up for the 40% haircut in retirement savings, the 100% increase in credit card interest, the 300% increase in my Medicare part D. Please, please, please save me from the “help” of my government

Posted by eyekew | Report as abusive

Our government officials (some) think that a less than 20 dollar a month increase in monthly benefits is not right, should think about the generous increase in there own cost of living increase this year of almost 10% that is approximatly $15,000.00 across the board, in addition to there already very high salaries and perks. When will this kind of greed stop. We the public should not re-elect the officials that voted for there own increase and be very proud of the fact that President Obama try’s to help those who really need it!!

Posted by arnold h richardson | Report as abusive

Um…. you’re headline is misleading to say the least, and the blurb you’ve taken from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities undermines your assertion. “If policymakers nevertheless choose to act, they should grant a flat, one-time payment as an economic stimulus measure rather than an across-the-board percentage increase…” That is exactly the definition of “That $250 (one-time, flat) check for seniors…” You arguing against a flat one time payment citing a source that is for that very same payment, but against a COLA. I guess thats why this is called a blog, cause there’s no editor to ensure you’re following logic. Too bad you missed the real newsworthy item, that no COLA means part B premiums are frozen, THAT is valuable, but loosely citing a source that *mentions* the subject, then placing a crude poliarized and inaccurate headline above it is just “a bad idea.”

Posted by Al | Report as abusive

Sure, why not? Open Fort Knox, step right up, take anything you like, as much as you can carry. You cannot be “denied access to quality, affordable __blank___.” Government has a moral duty to prevent such discrimination based on ability to pay. George Bush gave us eight year of deficits. That was too much. Lets grow those deficits and borrow more from China to destroy the dollar. It was only our arrogance, economic imperialism and exploitation that allowed the dollar to become strong. Let’s give it all back. There is a free lunch.

Posted by LPLupo | Report as abusive

Ya know, ,, If our nation were to abandon their love affair with the well to do and do what governments are supposed to do there would be plenty of money to keep promises to older Americans. Other nations don’t have our warlike behaviour outside their borders and instead support their own populations with policies less helpful to big business interests and more beneficial to the public. I’m especially angered by the contention that social security is a giveaway to lazy, worthless people. That money was placed there by us for us! When fat cats get free money the term “corporate welfare” is supressed.

As far as a $250 stipend goes,,, use it to further our domestic interests and improve life for all Americans. That’s a better use than pumping it into the coffers of Wal-Mart and the Chinese (formerly American) manufacturers.

Posted by Not Unemployed anymore | Report as abusive

Something is better than nothing right. As pointed out here, http://www.savingtoinvest.com/2009/10/ex tra-250-for-social-security.html , the new benefit would be $250 – or equivalent to a 2 percent increase in benefits for the average Social Security retiree beneficiary