Last Monday, Senator Hagel (R-NE) introudced a bill to reform Social Security based largely on raising the normal retirement age from 67 to 68 for those under 45 now and to continue to index it to longevity thereafter. As this is the basis of my preferred option for reforming the system, I view it as welcome news. The plan also includes personal accounts, along the lines of the President's initiative. The plan was initially described and outlined in articles in the Omaha World-Herald. The Social Security Chief Actuary's evaluation of the plan is here.
Senators Hagel and Boxer (D-CA) appeared on Face the Nation last Sunday to discuss his new bill and the Democrats' approach to Social Security. Hagel's got a plan. All Boxer does is accuse Republicans of wanting to "destroy the system." Does any reasonable reading of what Hagel has proposed constitute "destroying the system?" Adjustments to life expectancy to get the program solvent through the next 75 years, the option for personal accounts along the lines of the Thrift Savings Program, and transitional borrowing repaid out of future program savings? Boxer repeatedly refuses to say what she would do to restore solvency, saying only that there are many things that we can do.
In my view, which I understand is not shared by people with more of a partisan interest in the Democratic party per se, exchanges like this make the Democrats look bad. Boxer is attacking motives, not substance, and she is offering nothing constructive of her own. Which of the two is taking a leadership role? Senator Nelson (D-NE) seemed more reasonable today in a joint appearance with Senator Chafee (R-RI) on Meet The Press this morning.
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