I am sad to report that for the second straight year now, millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees can expect only a minute increases in their benefits at the start of the year. For many Washington and Oregon consumers hoping to avoid bankruptcy, this news does not bode well. The preliminary data suggest an increase of roughly 1.5 percent, which would be among the smallest since automatic increases were adopted in the mid-seventies. The increase will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven’t gone up much in the past year. Anyone living in the Seattle and Portland rental markets could tell you that their costs of living are going up astronomically, but, hey, what do they know?