Who Killed Social Security Reform?

From today’s San Francisco Chronicle, an article by Carolyn Lochhead “Social Security Rehab Died First Under Clinton“:

Who killed Social Security overhaul?A: Harry Reid.
B: George W. Bush.
D: Monica Lewinsky.

Answer: D.

Seven years ago, the first Baby Boomer president traveled the country to warn that his generation’s impending retirement — 76 million people, equal to the populations of California, Texas and Florida combined — would bankrupt the generations to follow.

‘It would be unconscionable if we failed to act,’ President Bill Clinton said at a forum in 1998, when he made fixing the nation’s retirement program a top priority of his second term.

Clinton’s efforts then, in light of President Bush’s now, induce an extraordinary sense of deja vu.

Clinton appointed a bipartisan commission, which delivered in 1997 three options to save the giant retirement program. They included a now-familiar list of possible benefit cuts, from changing indexing formulas to raising the retirement age.

One of the options would have allowed workers to divert 5 percentage points of their payroll taxes to personal accounts — the first such proposal by a government commission…

…Today, Lewinsky is ancient history, the Baby Boom retirement is seven years closer, and the budget surpluses Clinton hoped to use to “save Social Security first” are gone…

The article quotes Congressional Democrats about the seriousness of Clinton’s effort: “It’s kind of the Nixon-goes-to-China theory,” [then-Congressman Charles] Stenholm said. “It takes a Democrat to do some of the hard choices in social programs.”I’d take this reform — diverting five percentage points of payroll taxes to personal retirement accounts — from either party. Too bad, though, that Clinton traded this possible legacy for the one he ended up with.

Hat tip: Rush Limbaugh

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.