AARP president Robert Romasco is pledging to fight attempts to change how the federal government calculates inflation for tax and benefit programs, saying it would amount to a benefit cut for retirees.
Romasco and leaders with the state AARP met with the Daily Mail editorial board Thursday and discussed the effects a potential budget deal could have on state seniors.
Congress and President Barack Obama are currently waging a public relations war over ways to keep the federal government funded and prevent a potential default this year.
The federal government is currently operating under the latest in a series of continuing resolutions - short-term budget measures that allow the government to keep operating. The current resolution expires Tuesday.
Unless Congress and the White House agree on some way to fund the government after that date, the federal government will shut down at the first of the month.
Additionally, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has warned that the country will run out of money to pay its bills by Oct. 17 unless Congress raises the debt ceiling, which limits how much the U.S. Treasury can borrow to fund government operations.
President Obama has offered his budget plans, Republicans have offered theirs, but no progress has been made.
No matter who prevails, Romasco said there is one change he does not want to see in a final plan - a switch to the so-called chained CPI inflation measure.
The government currently uses a measure of the Consumer Price Index, which calculates the average cost of a market basket of goods to measure inflation and which is based on the average spending of urban workers.
Many in Washington, including President Obama, have proposed switching to the chained CPI, which not only measures the price of a good but also allows people to substitute items.
If the price of steak goes up one month, someone might switch to hamburger to save money. The chained CPI accounts for these choices and as a result reduces inflation over time.
While the government prefers a low inflation rate, Romasco said this switch would be disastrous for seniors because it will affect how their annual cost-of-living adjustment is calculated.
He said a 65-year-old senior who has an annual benefit income of $20,000 would receive $5,248 less over the next 15 years by switching to the new measure. If that senior lived to be 90, he or she would have received $14,076.