At the first gathering of the President's bipartisan fiscal commission, former Congressional Budget Office Director Rudy Penner makes a good point about Social Security reform:
The other point that I'd make about Social Security, it's not as important as health care, but it's much more simple to understand. We understand the effects of every option. We know what we save. We do not know the same sort of things about the various health options. So to me that makes a strong argument ... [that modest changes to Social Security] would make foreign investors more confident in our finances.
Here's another way to make the same point. There is a compelling argument out there that there is no entitlement crisis. The logic goes like this: the entitlement crisis is a Medicare crisis; the Medicare crisis is a medical inflation crisis; medical inflation is national, rather than specific to Medicare; therefore, our fiscal crisis is not specific to our entitlements, but instead a Gordian Knot that entangles the entire medical system. In short, reforming Medicare is really, really complicated. A lot more complicated, at least, than announcing that you've raised the taxable income ceiling by a few thousand dollars and indexed it to life expectancies.
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