The Corner

‘105 Democratic Lawmakers Reject Any Social Security Reform’

. . . at least unless “reform” consists entirely of tax increases. Says Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio): “We strongly believe that cuts to Social Security benefits must not be part of any recommendations or policymaking. We believe that Social Security should never be privatized and that the retirement age should never be raised.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vermont) offers the familiar argument against means-testing: “It makes a good sound bite to say that, gee, does Warren Buffett need Social Security? The reality is that once you start drawing a line, you do away with the universality of the program, and do away with the sentiment that everybody is part of the program, everybody contributes, everybody benefits. Once you start doing that and you draw a line, (and) over a period of years . . . it becomes a welfare program that has no support at all.”

So, in short, we have to have higher taxes in order to fool people into thinking that nobody is a net contributor into the program. Leaving aside the morality of this maneuver, how “reality-based” is it? Does Buffett really believe that he is a net beneficiary from Social Security? And do we really think that the public at large would not support a safety net for the elderly if the government ceased to give him benefits?

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.

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