WASHINGTON — Independent Sen. Angus King answered BDN reader questions recently about whether he supports the Chained CPI inclusion in the president’s budget and whether he thinks the federal government should tackle the heavy debt load carried by students.
1. Chained CPI
If President Barack Obama’s Chained United States Consumer Price Index on Social Security and veterans is included in the final package, will you be voting to approve his budget? — Reader question from Gary Walcutt
“The chained CPI, as you know, is a changed way of defining inflation and measuring inflation that many economists say is actually more accurate than what we use now, but it has the tendency, at least it’s predicted to have the tendency, to lower cost-of-living increases over the indefinite future. I haven’t seen the details of the president’s proposal, but in order for me to even think about supporting it, it would have to have escape hatches in it or safety valves — or whatever you want to call it — for people who are in difficult circumstances in terms of their income.”
2. Student debt
Student debt has topped $1 trillion. Some economists fear that the heavy debt borne by college graduates will siphon money from the economy, such as on housing and consumer spending, to pay off student loans. Do you believe the federal government should do something about this? If so, what? — Reader question from Jaric Fontaine
“I think there are a couple of steps we should follow. … I really think we need more information for students when they take on this debt. … No. 2, I think we have to hold the institutions, the schools, accountable, and if they’re not graduating many people, and if it looks like they’re really just a mill to take in the students’ money that’s borrowed, I think that has to be part of the equation. … Third, I think there are occasions where we should talk about forgiveness of debt or at least some part of it.”