How the White House Can Save Social Security

A new commission will recommend difficult reforms

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The White House has created a specialized commission to address the social security program, which faces challenges in maintaining long-term financial sustainability. Observers are trying to judge how the panel will try to save social security and making their own recommendations for how to go about it. With many Americans living longer lives, the retirement age is coming under special scrutiny. Here's what people have to say.

  • 5 Most Likely Changes  The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler previews three cost-side cuts: "In addition to raising the retirement age, which is now set to reach age 67 in 2027, specific cuts under consideration include lowering benefits for wealthier retires and trimming annual cost-of-living increases, perhaps only for wealthier retirees, people familiar with the talks said." And two revenue-side increases: "On the tax side, the leading idea is to increase the share of earned income that is subject to Social Security taxes, officials said. Under current law, income beyond $106,000 is exempt. Another idea is to increase the tax rate itself, said a Democrat on the commission."
  • Raising Retirement Age Political Suicide for Dems  Liberal blogger Duncan "Atrios" Black fumes, "Republicans don't need a 'win' but Dems do and Republicans won't support any tax increases except maybe regressive ones, there's a good chance that come December that they will come out with a 'compromise' which will include raising the Social Security retirement age. Why Dems think a political winner will be destroying their one remaining brand, basically the most popular thing the government does, and opening themselves up for attack ads stating, truthfully, 'Congressman X voted to raise your retirement age...' I do not know." He later adds, "We should be talking about lowering the Social Security retirement age, not increasing it."
  • Facing Tough Political Compromises  The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler reports, "The panel is looking for a mix of ideas that could win support from both parties, including concessions from liberals who traditionally oppose benefit cuts and from Republicans who generally oppose higher taxes. ... Even before the commission settles on a plan, many liberals are vowing to block any cut in retirement benefits. But the White House and the powerful senior group AARP appear open to a deal.Republicans on the commission have mostly held their fire."
  • Shift Some Benefits from Wealthy to Poor  The Atlantic's Derek Thompson explains, "one of the most popular ideas for reforming Social Security ... would involve making benefits more progressive by writing smaller checks to wealthier retirees. ... The richest 20 percent doesn't rely on Social Security benefits for their income nearly as much as the bottom 50 percent. The wealthier are healthier, they earn more and they save more for retirement. That's one reason why conservatives and liberals agree it's reasonable to cut their benefits to preserve the program. ... The upshot is that poorer workers get a higher percent of their wages, and richer workers get a lower percent. The payout should be progressive, because middle-class workers pay Social Security on most of their income, and upper-class workers don't."
  • AARP Finally Receptive to Cuts  Reason's Peter Suderman notes, "The AARP, the influential seniors’ lobby that one might expect to be the biggest single interest-group barrier to any such cuts, is now saying that it may be open to a deal that reduces benefits. ... The most likely explanation for their outburst of openness is that they want to make sure that they’re not left out of the debate. And that means creating the perception that they’re willing to bargain, not stonewall."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.