The Top Veterans Advocate In DC Explains What Is So Cruel And Brilliant About Obama’s Budget

Barack Obama social security budget

As a concession to forces in the GOP who want to see some entitlement cuts, President Barack Obama included a series of cuts to Social Security, disability insurance, veterans’ benefits and other programs in his proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

This set of cuts comes in the form of Chained CPI, a fix that entails adjusting the economic indicator that determines the annual cost of living adjustments. This effect compounds over time, costing beneficiaries thousands.

If you think that sounds boring, or sneaky, or dull, you’re not alone. That’s by design. 

We spoke to Tom Tarantino, the Chief Policy Officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), about just how devastating the cuts will be for young, disabled veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

During the chat, we talked about how Obama’s way articulating chained CPI was purposefully obtuse. His response here sums up exactly what makes the policy so brilliant and so cruel:

That’s it. Chained CPI is complicated. It is boring. It is wonky. It’s also really hard to understand. In a way it’s sort of a shell game they’re playing.

No one’s ever going to come out and say “Hey, times are tough, we’re going to cut veterans benefits so that we can save the budget.” They’re going to do things like “chained CPI,” which is a strange way to calculate benefits, and it’s not necessarily the most economically accurate.

But I get it, it’s basically trying to go back to those who have a hard time fighting for themselves.  They know by making it this confusing calculation that nobody really understands they can slip in further cuts to benefits.