April 12, 2013

Regarding the April 11 editorial “An offer to negotiate.”

It is disingenuous of President Obama to claim that the so-called chained consumer price index is a “more accurate” measure of inflation than that now used by the government to determine Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment, and it is disingenuous of The Post to repeat the claim. The current index measures cost increases experienced by working Americans; it does not take into account seniors’ higher health-care expenses. Chained CPI suffers from the same deficiency, but to a greater extent. By eroding inflation protection for seniors, it would effectively cut benefits. The president’s budget tacitly recognizes this by proposing to bump up benefits for older retirees.

If the chained CPI produced a more accurate measure of inflation for the elderly, there would be no need to adjust benefits for the oldest. Let’s have an honest conversation devoid of double-talk.

Thomas N. Bethell, Washington

The writer is a senior fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Evaluating all budget choices by their percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is an intellectually lazy exercise. I understand the comparison, over time, of the federal debt or the deficit to GDP, but defense spending? What is the correlation between the size of our economy and our defense requirements?

The editorial compounded the problem by using the percentage-of-GDP analysis to suggest the administration is committing resources inconsistent with our global security responsibilities. The charge may be true, but the case cannot be persuasively made with such an irrelevant benchmark.

Michael Lowe, Arlington