Reducing Social Security COLAs

by Kevin D. Williamson

Slow as I always am to disagree with Ramesh, I do think that the chained-CPI Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment reform would be a step in the right direction. Obscure as the black arts of Washington negotiation remain to me, I see no reason why Republicans could not at least make the effort to reduce Social Security COLA adjustments without embracing every objectionable thing that Barack Obama wants to attach to them, such as benefit increases. I am open to the argument that other measures, such as raising the retirement age, would be better ways to reduce entitlement spending, we probably are going to have to both raise the retirement age and reduce COLA increases, and probably add in a few other things, in order to reduce the current entitlement overhang down from catastrophic to the merely burdensome. And while it would not be a winner of an issue to run on, distributing some of the tax burden from the very wealthy back down to the middle class, which is swaddled in entitlement benefits, is not something I would object to in principle.

My general feeling is that when the Democrats put something reasonably inoffensive on the table, Republicans would do well to pluck out the best parts of the proposal and run with them.