One other issue that has just arisen was detailed in my local paper recently,"Millions TO Face Shrinking Checks; Trustees: No Cost Of Living Adjustment For Two Years." It details how Social Security checks, for the first time since 1975, will get no "Cost of Living Adjustment." None. Here are some of the more salient points:
By law, Social Security benefits cannot go down. Nevertheless, monthly payments would drop for millions of people in the Medicare prescription drug program because the premiums, which often are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up slightly.
"I will promise you, they count on that COLA," said Barbara Kennelly, a former Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut who now heads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "To some people, it might not be a big deal. (Emphasis is mine.)
But to seniors, especially with their health care costs, it is a big deal."
Cost of living adjustments are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year, largely because energy prices are below 2008 levels.
Advocates say older people still face higher prices because they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health care, where costs rise faster than inflation. Many also have suffered from declining home values and shrinking stock portfolios just as they are relying on those assets for income.
"For many elderly, they don't feel that inflation is low because their expenses are still going up," said David Certner, legislative policy director for AARP. "Anyone who has savings and investments has seen some serious losses."
No kidding. But that sums it up nicely.
As does my fellow NQ writer, Bronwyn's Harbor, in this post, "I've Changed My Mind About 'Death Panels,'" in which Bronwyn's neighbor's travails of the effects of no COLA are laid out in stark relief. The neighbor is being forced to choose between medicine and food, a horrible choice for any person, but especially one who has no other source of income.
It makes my head just swirl. Representative Mike Rogers details some other choices Americans will have to make. Or rather, choices that will be made for us, in one of the most common sense statements I have heard yet about the health care policy the Obama Administration is trying to institute, along with some actual provisions of the bill:
I don't know to which party this man belongs, and I don't much care. What I DO care about is that he seems to care about US, the average U.S. citizen. And I appreciate his calling out the Congress for its desire to over-function. That is to say, when the functional people have to work extra hard to compensate for the dysfunctional (as in not fully functioning, not mentally unstable or physically disabled) people. It does not bring up the dysfunctional people. On the contrary. All it does is pull down the fully functioning people (Rabbi Dr. Friedman discussed this issue frequently in his practice). It sounds like that is exactly the same thing Abraham Lincoln was saying, as quoted by Rep. Rogers noted above.
Choosing between food, shelter, and medicine as a result of government run programs sounds to me like programs that are not run to the benefit of the people. And that will bring all of us down. There has got to be a better way...