Inflation-Indexing Elements in Federal Entitlement Programs


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For example, if the federal government did not index income tax bracket levels to inflation, then as wages generally rose with inflation, more income would be pushed into higher tax brackets, compounding the effects of inflation by charging overly high tax bills.

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The debate surrounding indexation can be divided into multiple tiers: First, whether the federal government should index monetary values to inflation, and second, what metric the government should use for indexing programs. Those who support indexation point out that allowing the minimum wage or food stamps to keep pace with the real value of goods and services upholds the intention of the law by preserving the real value present in the original legislation.

Additionally, this saves time and legislative action by automatically implementing updates to these values that the legislature would irregularly pass only when they chose to do so. While this might not be a morally sound argument for indexation, it is a reality of a political body.


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Secondly, we must consider how the government actually determines the appropriate level of indexation. Admittedly, the intricacies of indexing federal and state programs to inflation do not present themselves as a fascinating and engaging issue. However, an effective and equitable adjustment of government programs based on inflation can ensure fair implementation of our laws, a goal that is certainly worthy investing time and energy to pursue. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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December 2, Accessed June 14, Report no. Some very large entitlement programs including Social Security pensions and government employee retirement programs have been "indexed" to inflation , so that the size of the benefit is periodically adjusted according to a fixed formula based on unpredictable changes in the Consumers' Price Index.

Perhaps more significantly, the amount of spending on entitlement programs is impossible for the Senate and House Appropriations committees to even attempt to adjust or to control because those committees do not have the jurisdiction to rewrite the laws that specify who gets how much and under what conditions. The various specialized standing committees who do have the jurisdiction to rewrite authorizing legislation each tend to be dominated by members whose political interests lie in expanding their particular entitlement program, not in cutting it back, and the political influence of the organized special interest groups that support the programs tends to be overwhelming on the specialized committees when such proposals arise.

Since the middle s, entitlement programs have accounted for more than half of all federal spending.


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This very substantially reduces the practicality of trying to counteract the ups and downs of the overall economy through a "discretionary" fiscal policy because so very little of the budget is available for meaningful alteration by the Appropriations and Budget committees on short notice. Paul M. Entitlement program The kind of government program that provides individuals with personal financial benefits or sometimes special government-provided goods or services to which an indefinite but usually rather large number of potential beneficiaries have a legal right enforceable in court, if necessary whenever they meet eligibility conditions that are specified by the standing law that authorizes the program.

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