After several offers and counteroffers, Congress and the President may be close to reaching a fiscal cliff deal. Part of that agreement involves cutting Social Security benefits by switching to calculating them based on chained CPI.
According to Brad DeLong, “‘Chained-CPI’ is code for ‘let’s really impoverish some women in their 90s!’”
Since women tend to live longer than men and tend to be poorer than men, they’ll be the hardest hit by this change. As Bryce Covert notes, Social Security is basically the only source of income for nearly 40 percent of women over 80, compared to 28 percent of men. By switching to chained-CPI, at age 80, a single elderly woman’s Social Security benefits would be cut by the equivalent of one week’s worth of food each month, according to the National Women’s Law Center. By age 95, they’d be down by nearly two weeks of food. Some women have the support of their children to fall back on, but many do not. (See the cumulative cuts in the chart above.)
This hit is likely on top of another $100 billion in spending cuts to important domestic programs that low-income women and children rely on. As Bryce notes, “Poor women make for a pretty pathetic bargaining chip after an election in which women helped usher Obama to victory.”