The Village Times



Social Security


Issued: Jan. 25, 2012 Village Citation


Statement: Even though Social Security is, by law, separate from the federal budget, our messengers have been able to drag it into the deficit reduction discussion. This month, we're honoring three individuals for their fine work in these efforts. For starters, David Brooks and Ruth Marcus did a great job promoting revisions in the way Social Security benefits get adjusted each year. These revisions, known as the chained consumer price index (CPI), are based on the idea that in tough economic times, people will substitute cheaper goods—say chicken for steak, or Kibbles 'n Bits for chicken. In a Dec. 3 New York Times column entitled “The Truly Grand Bargain,” Mr. Brooks opined that, in return for a slight tick upward on top tax rates, Republicans could ask for “medium-size entitlement cuts” such as those offered by chained CPI. Ms. Marcus followed up with a Dec. 25 opinion piece for our partner The Washington Post touting CPI while warning that the existing system “overpays beneficiaries and undercharges taxpayers.” Fareed Zakaria also merits praise for his inspiring defense of our client Pete Peterson in a Dec. 24 piece in Time Magazine. Fareed wrote, “The left must ask itself why it is tethered to a philosophy that insists that government's overwhelming responsibility is for pensions and health care even when, as an inevitable consequence, this starves other vital functions of the state.” Functions like bailing out our friends on Wall Street, for instance.


Thanks to the work of these individuals and others, support for chained CPI is now de rigueur among Serious People, as evidenced by President Obama's recent offer to include chained CPI in his deficit-reducing Grand Bargain.