Thursday, February 26, 2009

Huff Post: Obama Angers GOP By Brushing Over Social Security

The Huffington Post reports that GOP leaders are miffed that President Obama's budget speech seemingly backed off from a task force on Social Security reform and movement toward a bipartisan solution:

After hoping that Obama might be open to some sort of bipartisan reform that would reduce benefits and raise the eligibility age -- and perhaps plant the seeds for private accounts -- Republicans are now less hopeful that he'll come their way.

"I was not happy," Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told the Huffington Post. "That was the one area of his speech I was not happy with. He appears to be backing away from what I thought was an earlier commitment to tackling Social Security reform."

If Obama truly has put Social Security on the back burner, I think he is missing an opportunity. Republicans want to fix this program and are willing to accept significant compromises to do so. They may not be so willing in the future. Reportedly Obama backed off due to pressure from liberal interest groups and Democrats on Capital Hill. That doesn't bode well for his ability to stand up to the much stronger forces that will inevitably fight any attempts at entitlement reform.



Bruce Webb said...

Republicans want to fix this program and are willing to accept significant compromises to do so.

Do those significant compromises include increases in FICA? Or cap increases? Or just a temporary backoff on private accounts?

Because I have seen nothing that resembles any kind of compromise. Except the kind of compromise which quotes Dean Baker only to dismiss his opinion out of hand. And then brackets the appropriate range of discourse with Diamond-Orszag on the 'Left' and the 2001 Comm Model 2 on the Right.

Some version of Diamond-Orszag might make sense, say starting in 2029 when Social Security projects to drop out of Short Term Actuarial Balance, but only as a compromise. But the Baker-Krugman-Rosser-Webb crew are not likely to accept it as the starting point for negotiations.

McConnell is complaining because Obama won't from the git-go agree to a compromise on Republican grounds. Too bad, so sad. Elections have consequences. Or so we were told when President Bush told us 'all options are on the table' (as long as they didn't include tax increases and do end up with PRAs).

Andrew G. Biggs said...

I wouldn't want to speak for people who can speak for themselves, but two things pop out: first, giving up on a carve out account and working toward universal 'add on' accounts; second, accepting some increase in the taxable maximum wage for payroll taxes. Neither of those are things conservatives would like to do, but would be willing to accept to get a fix moving. So far, no motion on the left, however.