“Stupid is, as stupid does…” Especially, when it come to the USA and Social Security.

By: C. Arthur Reavis

For only the third time since 1975, Social Security recipients will NOT receive a cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2016. However, the federal government will, yet again, forgo billions in tax revenue by allowing corporations to write-off the cost of their CEO’s bonuses. That’s right, those golden parachutes CEO’s get for running a company into the dirt and laying off thousands is a tax write-off! Or, those HUGE checks CEO’s receive for “doing well,” (Read.: Keeping salaries and benefits at a minimum for their hardworking employees, while raising stock dividends and padding their portfolios) is a write off too!

And to compound “MeriKa’s ‘Coddle those rich bastards’ economics policies,” everyone who makes over $118k does NOT have to pay Social Security Tax on any money earned OVER that amount. YET, those people still get to collect SSI when they retire. Pretty SWEET if you’re already loaded! But, if you’re one of the average 54 million people on Social Security this year (or 11 million disabled people) just trying to survive: You’re SCREWED!

The official reason being cited for NOT giving SSI/SSDI recipients a COLA this year is that inflation is low. Yet, this is a vastly misleading statement especially for those over 62 and/or the disabled. Traditionally, when the media reports an inflation figure, that figure does NOT include energy; fuel, heating oil, propane, kerosene, etc. and food. The argument for not including those necessities of life items in the core inflation rate is that there are too many variables, from nature and global political crisis, which impact prices of such items. Therefore, to include those items would not truly represent the inflation rate. What is, technically, inflation? “[A] persistent, substantial rise in the general level of prices related to an increase in the volume of money and resulting in the loss of value of [that] currency.” Economists have decided, somewhat arbitrarily, that such things as hurricanes, floods, droughts and global political crisis should NOT be calculated when figuring out how much the particular purchasing power of a currency has declined. Why? Good question! Especially, since these items are necessities of life.

However, the main reason being cited this year for the lack of a SSI/SSDI COLA is that gas prices (“energy”) have been low and are speculated to remain low. Yet, the costs of medicine, healthcare and food have ALL increased faster than the rate of inflation. Moreover, millions on SSI/SSDI will see their Medicare premiums rise 16%, for very complex reasons. So, while low energy prices are good for drivers, shoppers and those heating large homes, seniors and the disabled, as a group, drive less and have more specialized diets. In general, seniors and certainly the disabled use MUCH more medicine, access healthcare MUCH more. Therefore, as a group those on SSI/SSDI will be disproportionately and negatively impacted by this STUPID decision which was part of Boehner’s grand exit bargain to prevent a few right-wing radicals in Congress form shutting down the Government…again.

Moreover, here in Broome County approximately 25% of the ENTIRE population is on SSI with 4% of the total population (7,880 people) being on disability. So Broome County’s already depressed economy will be further depressed by 25% of the population not getting a COLA. However, there is a FORTHCOMING bill, proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren & Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, in the US Senate that would help remedy this situation: The SAVE (Seniors And Veterans Emergency) Benefits Act. But this needs to be passed and fast! Please call your representative in both the House and Senate and ask that they support this bill. Call and write House Representative, Richard Hanna (607-723-0212) and tell him to introduce similar legislation in the House. Also, call Sen. Chuck Schumer (607-772-6792) and Kirsten Gillibrand (315-448-0470) and tell them to support the Sanders/Warren bill. And most importantly, take to the streets and PROTEST these injustices.

 

 

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