Jonathan Chait

Conservative Honesty On Social Security

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Good for AEI's Andrew Biggs for correcting conservatives who continue to insist that privatizing Social Security is an alternative to reducing benefits or raising taxes:

Personal accounts are a valid choice, and one I’ve supported in the past and continue to support. But accounts aren’t exclusive to tax increases or benefit cuts; they don’t, as I’ll explain, reduce the need for these other choices. One problem for the Bush administration’s reform drive in 2005 was that many congressional Republicans had bought into the idea that accounts reduce or eliminate the need for tax increases or benefit cuts. Finding out they don’t may have taken some wind out of their sails.

We're eventually going to need to reduce benefits or increase revenues in order to keep Social Security running. Republicans could have made a deal like that under George W. Bush, but they insisted on trying to privatize the program instead. If a deal like that is to happen now, there are going to have to be more Republicans like Biggs who have some grasp of the basic fiscal reality of the program.

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