The Boston Globe reports this morning that Tufts Health Plan chief executive James Roosevelt Jr. is being considered for the Obama administration’s nomination to head the Social Security Administration.
Last May, he wrote an op-ed with Robert L. Reynolds, a Republican and CEO of Putnam Investments, where he advocates for raising the Social Security retirement age at a brisker pace as well as cutting back the growth of benefits with a different Consumer Price Index (CPI):
On the benefits side, we should change the way we calculate the cost-of-living adjustment for all beneficiaries, by utilizing a revised Consumer Price Index which most economists agree more accurately reflects the rate of inflation for the expenses most seniors incur. Such a change would curb the rate of increase in benefits for future generations of retirees [...]
Lastly, we should accelerate the rise in Social Security’s full-benefit retirement age from age 67 to 68 by 2030 and then index the full benefit age for future generations to gains in longevity. Life expectancy past age 65 has risen nearly 50 percent since 1940, when Social Security first began regular monthly payments. That said, we should improve disability options for those engaged in physically demanding jobs. No one expects coal miners or telephone line crews to work into their late 60s.
“There is actually no agreement that the chained CPI provides a better measure of inflation for seniors. An experimental index constructed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually shows that the elderly experience a higher rate of inflation primarily because they consume more health care,” says economist Dean Baker. “It is also likely that they don’t substitute as much between items as other consumers. If the concern is accuracy then the answer would be to have the BLS construct a full elderly index. Those who just want to switch to the chained CPI based on the evidence available are obviously interested in cutting Social Security, not accuracy.”
Polling shows that Americans staunchly oppose cuts to Social Security benefits.