Progressive Social Security Reform Meets Reality

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Republicans learned some hard political lessons from the failure of their 2005 reform push. Now, it’s Democrats’ turn.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE F rom the mid 1990s through the mid 2000s, Social Security reform was a conservative issue. Seemingly every Republican senator or representative had a plan to fix America’s underfunded retirement program. Then, after the failure of President George W. Bush’s 2005 reform effort, Republican enthusiasm dwindled and Democrats came to have the issue all to themselves.

Now, however, a revised version of the most popular progressive Social Security-reform plan has belatedly recognized a political reality: While ordinary Americans are happy for others to pay more tax dollars into Social Security, they would generally rather not do so themselves.

Before Bush’s failed reform push,

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Andrew G. Biggs is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He previously served as the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, as well as working on Social Security reform for the White House National Economic Council in 2005.


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