The NYT Wrongly Asserts That Economists Want to Cut Social Security

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Sunday, 31 July 2011 14:06

The NYT is starting to do the same sort of editorializing in news stories for which Fox and the Washington Post are famous. It told readers that President Obama had proposed a change in the Social Security cost of living adjustment formula that would reduce scheduled benefits and then adds that this cut was "long sought by economists."

Umm, which economists? All economists? Not this one, or many others with whom I associate. Is there a poll of economists that provides the basis for this assertion? If so, a cite would be in order.

Actually many people, including economists, have suggested that if the point is to have a cost of living adjustment that accurately reflects the cost of living of Social Security beneficiaries then the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can construct a full cost of living index for people over the age of 65 (or 62). It already has an experimental elderly index, which shows a higher rate of inflation than the index that is currently used for cost of living adjustments.

Economists, and others, who want to see an accurate cost of living adjustment would advocate having the BLS construct a full cost of living index for the elderly. Economists, and others, who want to see Social Security benefits reduced advocate adopting an index that shows a lower rate of inflation, whether or not this accurately represents the cost of living of Social Security beneficiaries.