The Social Security Administration announced on October 13th that the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2022 will be 5.9%. That’s the highest in 40 years. So why aren’t seniors popping the champagne corks?
Simple. It’s not a raise at all. The COLA merely keeps one from falling still further behind. Sure, monthly benefits are going up. Someone receiving the average Social Security benefit of $1,555 will be due an extra $91 per month. But Medicare’s 2022 Part B premium is expected to eat up $10 per month of this. Further, the sting of price increases has been felt since immediately after Joe Biden took office. That means seniors have been paying higher prices for over nine months now before they even get their cost of living adjustment.
“Bidenflation” is making seniors worse off, not better off. Inflation robs people of the value of their money. It’s no different than a burglar taking funds from your sock drawer. According to one senior advocacy group, the surging cost of gas, used cars, home heating oil, bacon, eggs, beef, milk, and home care for the elderly were among the fastest-growing expenses for older Americans over the year ending July 2021.
But are Joe Biden and the Democrats really to blame for the current inflationary economy? The answer is, for the most part, yes! Leftist policies to date have fueled price increases and scarcity. The third stimulus bill passed in March 2021 without a single GOP vote sent yet a third round of checks to nearly all, even though vaccines were aplenty and the economy was growing. Inflation resulted. It was a textbook case of too much money chasing the same number of goods.
Bonuses of $300 over and above regular unemployment were also passed as part of that bill. That created huge disincentives to work. Business leaders practically begged politicians not to destroy their companies by making hiring even more difficult. Companies have been forced to compete with the government by offering much higher pay, but that just gets passed on to consumers. That pizza or chicken parmesan is several more dollars now, no matter where you order it than it was under President Trump.
Childcare tax credits are being sent out to middle and lower-income families every month now. Many economists think that is keeping people from reentering the labor force, even as the unemployment bonuses ended over a month ago. It’s yet another disincentive and thus distortion of what could be a normal economy.
Shortages. This is a more complex issue, but a lack of truck drivers is one of the biggest problems right now. It’s the reason you see dozens of ships waiting out at sea to dock when you turn on your television. There are too few truckers to drive the goods to market. Many drivers chose not to return to work, and still many more decided not to bother applying for the thousands of open positions in this industry and nearly every other. Better to stay home and get paid. Now Biden and the Democrats are essentially trying to prepare us all for a Blue Christmas. One economist said to not expect normality to return until after next Christmas—in 2022!
It didn’t have to be this way. Under the last Administration, it absolutely wasn’t this way. In fact, you have to go back to the Carter years to find an economy so distorted by bad decisions and lackluster leadership. Seniors likely remember the late 1970s well. It was gas lines, sticker shock, foreign policy blunders, and malaise.
AMAC will continue to advocate for restrained government and more freedom. We favor innovation over regulation and empowerment and entrepreneurship over entitlement. AMAC even has a plan to preserve and modernize Social Security for the long term to prevent insolvency, which is predicted to occur in just over a decade. Continued inflation might very well drive the insolvency date closer.
As the worst days of the pandemic began fading from memory, most expected a return to some kind of normal. Instead, we’ve gotten a Biden and Democrat version of a “New Normal.” Polls show very few Americans like this “new normal.” The elections in November 2022 will be one of the best places to register one’s dismay over inflation and the current state of this distorted economy.
Jeff Szymanski works in political communications at AMAC, a senior benefits organization with nearly 2.4 million members. He previously taught high school government and economics for 15 years.
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