Politics & Policy

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

The necessity and desirability of Social Security reform.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the January 31, 2005, issue of National Review.

People think that Social Security reform is an incredibly complicated and difficult subject. But it’s not, really. The program’s benefits are rising faster than its revenues, which means we’re going to have a lot of trouble paying for those benefits. The program also offers young people a lousy deal. The solution is, first, to keep future benefits from growing so fast. But acknowledging that benefits have to shrink doesn’t make the program a better deal for young workers. So, second, something should be done that lets them build up retirement savings to make up for it. Which means their taxes should be cut a bit, too, on the condition that they invest the money they get for retirement. That, in a nutshell, is the reform President Bush seems inclined to propose. There: Was that so hard?

It’s not the reform itself, but the politics of reform that is difficult, and may well sink Bush’s proposal in Congress. And it’s politics that has generated much of the confusion over basic facts in the Social Security debate.

Most Democrats already oppose Bush’s reform, and they have many reasons for opposing it–starting, in many cases, with the genuine conviction that it is a bad idea. But it is very hard to have respect for people who are trying to discredit reform by minimizing the program’s problems….

YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE IN THE CURRENT ISSUE OF THE DIGITAL VERSION OF NATIONAL REVIEW. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SUBSCRIPTION TO NR DIGITAL OR NATIONAL REVIEW, YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR A SUBSCRIPTION TO NATIONAL REVIEW here OR NATIONAL REVIEW DIGITAL here (a subscription to NR includes Digital access).

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Lies We’re Told about the American Story

Editor’s Note: The following essay was adapted from remarks delivered to the annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, in California, on October 4. Every American heart must break when lies are told to boys and girls, who then grow up to think the worst about their past: that the American ... Read More
U.S.

The Lies We’re Told about the American Story

Editor’s Note: The following essay was adapted from remarks delivered to the annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, in California, on October 4. Every American heart must break when lies are told to boys and girls, who then grow up to think the worst about their past: that the American ... Read More

Election-Meddling Redux

It is not an attack on the American election. It is an influence operation aimed at the American media, using the $60 billion per annum American intelligence apparatus to pull it off. And it’s working. On Wednesday night, it was suddenly announced that U.S. security services would conduct a press ... Read More

Election-Meddling Redux

It is not an attack on the American election. It is an influence operation aimed at the American media, using the $60 billion per annum American intelligence apparatus to pull it off. And it’s working. On Wednesday night, it was suddenly announced that U.S. security services would conduct a press ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More