Friday, October 9, 2009

US News on Social Security reform

US News & World Report's Luke Mullins has a nice article on prospects for Social Security reform. One point I made in it is (I think, anyway) worth repeating:

Andrew Biggs, a former deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, expects President Obama to try and tackle reform later in his term. "It's a big issue, but it's relatively fixable in the sense that it is much more of a mature policy issue than something like healthcare," says Biggs, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "We know the pros and cons. We just have to make our decisions."

I think the course of the health care reform debate has shown the merits of a mature policy issue. We started health care talking about "bending the cost curve" but it became clear that we either had little idea how to really do it – think of health IT, comparative effectiveness research and disease management – or we weren't willing to take the steps that most experts think will cut costs, like repealing the tax exemption for health coverage. Social Security may be the smaller problem, but we can be more confident that common reforms will actually get the job done.


1 comment:

Bruce Webb said...

Michael Steele and his Merry Men in the current Congressional leadership did the Cato/AEI Project no favors.

For the last two decades it has been clear that the strategy to roll back the New Deal has been focused around a couple of messages. One has to couple challenges to Social Security and Medicare into a unified 'Entitlements Crisis' which in turn have been sold under two mantras of 'Sustainable Solvency' and 'Intergenerational Equity'. And par and parcel of that has been selling the idea that the fundamental problem facing Social Security is that excessive benefits to earlier generations of retirees shifted unfunded liabilities forward onto future generations and that the demands of retiring Boomers were drivers in taking Medicare costs out of control. Which led to the supposition that the only solution was to embrace a Concord or Brookings/Heritage bi-partisan commission based on BRAC that would present a tough love up or down plan based on 'shared sacrifice' which amounted to deep cuts in Medicare and Social Security Benefits.

The Steele led approach of being an uncompromising defender against any Medicare cuts has to bite for the Entitlements Crisis contingent. If we are not spending too much on Medicare what is the damn point? Just Social Security?