Monday, September 22, 2008

Gene Steuerle on Social Security Reform

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation has released another in Gene Steuerle's "The Government We Deserve" series, this one focusing on Social Security reform. Some highlights:

Certainly one important question raised about Social Security today is how to balance its finances. But it's only one question. Social Security exists-or should exist-to serve people, and lately it's been doing only a so-so job on that front.

Many of Social Security's features were designed around a view of the economy and the family that is at least three-quarters of a century old. Congress spends tens of billions more every single year for the program, but few of those extra dollars address the needs of the poor or very old. Meanwhile, the program discourages work at a time when the labor force is growing at a slower pace, and it discriminates strongly against single parents, usually women.

Three major reforms are required to modernize Social Security: better poverty reduction, less discouragement of work, and fairer treatment of the family.

I concur strongly with Gene's overall point: solvency is a necessary condition for a successful reform, but not sufficient. There are many other ways in which the program can be improved, particularly along the lines he highlights. The whole article is well worth reading.

No comments: