Tag Archives: Greenspan Commission

Hank Aaron’s Chinese menu: Fixing Social Security at the NASI

The National Academy of Social Insurance hosted a decidedly unusual trio of luncheon speakers at its annual conference last week. Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution, keynote, was there to unveil a new plan he’s devised to solidify Social Security’s funding for the next 75 years, if not beyond. Nancy J. Altman, president of Social Security Works, and Jason Fichtner, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, were on hand to respond to and discuss Aaron’s proposal.

Aaron has perhaps the deepest knowledge of the Social Security system – and social insurance in general – of anyone alive today. Altman is also a leading expert and a longtime, passionate defender of the program against right-wing attempts to dismantle it. Fichtner served in the Social Security Administration under George W. Bush and is a critic of the program who has argued that it crowds out private savings and offers negative incentives to work and who advocates stabilizing its finances by cutting benefits while cutting payroll taxes.

Aaron and Altman have never been friendly to such ideas. Normally, that would place them on one side of the Social Security discussion and Fichtner on the other. That wasn’t so last week.

Continue reading Hank Aaron’s Chinese menu: Fixing Social Security at the NASI

Why the Deficit Commission Won’t Cut Social Security: A History Lesson

Nostalgists for some imagined, bygone era of bipartisanship don’t hold out a lot of hope for the deficit commission. They’re right, but for the wrong reasons.

With a few exceptions, blue-ribbon presidential commissions are dismissed as window dressing, a polite way to kick the can down the road on a particular issue. Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is just such a one.

Disappointed that the commission won’t have the power to force an up-or-down vote in Congress, the deficit hawks call this an ominous failure of government, a further sign that Washington has forgotten how to govern. That’s a dubious proposition: Is a Congress that’s voted consistently and overwhelmingly to keep funding a wasteful, destructive, and ill-conceived “war against terrorism” in the Mideast, despite broad public opposition, for nine years now, really incapable of governing? It may be deeply misguided, but it’s certainly capable of making the proverbial “tough decisions.”

The deficit hawks are right, however, that the deficit commission doesn’t stand much chance of success. Especially of cutting Social Security, which in the wake of the new health care reform law, has become its primary target. To understand why requires a short history lesson.

The long war against Social Security, which began in the early 1980s, is now in its third phase.

Phase 1 began in 1983, Continue reading Why the Deficit Commission Won’t Cut Social Security: A History Lesson