Charles Blahous at e21, a new economic think tank, has a marvelous, deep explanation of the Social Security changes (this isn't from today, but it is the best stuff I've seen on Social Security)
The biggest cost-saver in the plan is its proposed change to the "bend point factors" in the benefit formula. The Social Security benefit formula is built on a set of progressive marginal rates, somewhat like marginal income tax rates except in reverse. The current benefit formula's benefit earnings brackets are 90% (on the low-income end), 32%, and 15% (on the high-income end). Under Simpson-Bowles, these three regions would be changed into four: 90%, 30%, 10% and 5%. As should be obvious, most of the cost containment from this provision would occur on the high-income end. The plan also contains some benefit increases for low-income workers and for the most aged, which I will discuss later.
Clive Crook at The Atlantic finds much to like in the plan, and much to dislike in the reaction:
The instant reaction to the proposals, though unsurprising, is nonetheless depressing. Nancy Pelosi calls the plan unacceptable. Grover Norquist agrees. Often it is a good thing to be attacked by the two extremes--that's when you know you are right. But it is not enough for left and right to cancel each other out. Ideas like these will get nowhere unless the broad middle of the country supports them, and that requires the kind of leadership the US currently lacks.
Jon Chait at TNR joins the liberals disappointed with liberals group:
But while the chance of success is remote, it isn't zero. Engaging with the commission is a way of maximizing the odds of its success. If it loses? Well, then, Democrats can sit back and let the Republicans either try to unilaterally impose wildly unpopular budget cuts or else demonstrate once again their utter fiscal fraudulence.
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