David Certner, AARP legislative policy director, and Andrew G. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, are both against a proposed change in the formula that's used to calculate Social Security cost-of-living adjustments. That Certner and Biggs would find common ground is surprising, considering how often AARP and the AEI, a Washington, D.C., think tank, are at odds on policy issues.
How surprising? Here's Biggs' opening remark at their moderated discussion on the issue: "If you had asked me about the [proposed change] five years ago, I would have probably said, 'It's kind of a no-brainer to do. Everybody agrees it's a better measure of inflation, and since AARP is against it, well, I should probably be for it.' "
Certner and Biggs aired their mutual disapproval of the proposal - the so-called chained Consumer Price Index, which would help reduce budget deficits and national debt while gnawing at Social Security benefits - but made clear their reasoning wasn't necessarily the same. Watch some video clips below (or watch the full discussion here).
Should Social Security even be part of the budget debate?
Biggs disagreed, saying he had "no problems with including Social Security or other entitlements in these sorts of discussions."
Who would the chained CPI affect?
Biggs and Certner shared an interest in researching an alternate formula that would increase cost-of-living adjustments.
Biggs would offset those higher adjustments by cutting the starting benefit. (Certner would not.)
Watch for debates over the chained CPI to surface in upcoming budget battles.