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.