Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chuck Blahous on “slashing benefits”

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Chuck Blahous – one of the public Trustees of Social Security and Medicare – argues against the careless use of the phrase "slashing benefits":

In no true sense, therefore, would any current Social Security reform proposal "slash" benefits. Leaders on both sides of the aisle should acknowledge that we are actually negotiating over a rate of benefit growth. The irony in all of this is that if we dither long enough, ultimately we will indeed face the threat of benefits being "slashed" by a full 22%, according to last year's Social Security Trustees' report. It's not a reformed Social Security system that threatens to cut benefits, but the status quo—and our elected leaders would do well to acknowledge this reality.

I don't totally agree with Chuck – think that it's ok for the left to talk about benefit cuts when they're actually referring to reductions in replacement rates, meaning benefits/pre-retirement earnings, just as the right talks about tax increase when we really mean taxes/earnings.

But his basic point that we need to think hard about what we mean and not be careless in using politically charged language is right on to me.

1 comment:

Arne said...

I get the point, but if doing nothing will cause benefits to be 'slashed', then a plan which delivers less than doing nothing can fairly be described as slashing benefits.