Besides Reforming Social Security, What Ideas Do You Have for Reforming Social Security?

Pat Toomey, the Republican candidate in the Pennsylvania US Senate race, said in a debate this week that his opponent Joe Sestak has no plans for reforming Social Security besides raising taxes and cutting spending.

Ha. Well, look. This won't get very much news treatment because Democrats don't want anything to happen to Social Security and conservative Republicans would prefer to see the whole thing privatized to give families a chance to have a higher reward on their retirement investments, even if it comes at a higher risk.

But it's worth pointing out that raising taxes and cutting spending are, in fact, the ways you reform Social Security. Toomey's statement is a bit like saying: Besides raising taxes and cutting spending, my opponent has no plans to close the deficit. It's true that there are some out-of-the-box ways we could make money for the federal government, like selling Alaska to the Russians. But ruling out such a sale doesn't exactly make you an uncreative problem solver.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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