Monday, June 27, 2016

Social Security: Gut or Expand It?

Robert Verbruggen, writing for the American Conservative, outlines the lay of the land on Social Security reform, including reference to my recent proposal published by the American Enterprise Institute:

Social Security has been running a deficit since 2010, and in 2034, its “trust fund”—more or less just a tally of previous surpluses—will run out. Left and right could not disagree more about how to handle the situation.

Democrats, up to and including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, would like to expand the program, necessitating tax hikes above and beyond what would be needed merely to sustain it. And conservative intellectuals, whose thinking is captured in a new report from the American Enterprise Institute, would like to gut the program and replace it with a flat benefit that does nothing more than ensure seniors don’t live in poverty. That’s something the current program doesn’t achieve, so low-income seniors would see bigger checks—but on balance, this would slash benefits so dramatically that the program would eventually run a surplus, allowing tax cuts.

The left’s approach is grossly irresponsible. There is no compelling evidence that seniors, as a whole, need more benefits from the government—and in our current fiscal situation, they certainly shouldn’t be at the front of the line. But while the AEI plan has much to recommend it, it has zero chance of winning the support of the American people. The most likely and practical approach, alas, is the one Washington insiders have bandied about for years: A gentle mix of revenue and benefit tweaks to make the program sustainable.

Click here to read Verbruggen’s whole article – well worth reading.

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