Advancing a Free Society

Social Security shortfall warrants action soon

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

With the president's fiscal responsibility commission wrapping up its business, and with a spate of recently-unveiled Social Security reform proposals on the table, it seems a particularly opportune time for a refresher on the Social Security challenge itself. 

I wrote this piece for E21 based on a recent paper  I had coauthored with Robert Greenstein (sponsored by the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative). 

It has naturally caught the attention of readers that Robert Greenstein and I have different policy views, and in particular different views about how best to repair the Social Security shortfall. This was to my mind one reason why this joint paper was worth writing. It is trivial for those who already agree on policy to agree on the nature of the problem. What we need, however, is for people with different policy instincts to come together around a common understanding of the problem and of the need to work together to address it.

The bottom line is that the Social Security shortfall is real, it's not going to go away without legislative action, and we would be much better off as a society dealing with it sooner rather than later.  Although some have focused on potential sources of uncertainty in the projections, the paper explains that it is far more likely that the problem will be significantly worse than now projected, than it is that it will go away entirely by itself.  I'm pleased to have had an opportunity to collaborate on what I believe is an important, bipartisan explanation of these realities.