Social Security turned 75 this year, but the most important day for America's piggy bank will be in December when the president's fiscal commission could propose major and minor reforms to the program to extend its life past the 2030s, when it's scheduled to face major benefit cuts.
What should the commission recommend? To get some knowledge, I spoke with Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute. An edited transcript:
Should we raise the full retirement age?
If you ask people about raising it in isolation it's not popular. If you weigh with other options like increasing taxes or cutting benefits, it makes more sense. Americans are living longer. We're healthier. The capacity to work is improving, and people are working a bit longer. I think it's a good step forward.
Isn't the increase in longevity concentrated among high-earners with desk jobs that aren't physically demanding?
Valid point. Life expectancy and health are not distributed equally. You'd want to pair it with special provisions for people who can't keep working. Whatever you do, you want it to be progressive so the cut will be smaller at the bottom.
Right, progressive. I've used the word "means-test" a few times in reference to Social Security. Is that the wrong term?