Orszag on Social Security

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It’s natural to be pleased when some famous and well-regarded person agrees with you completely. So naturally I’m pleased that Peter Orszag’s view of the Simpson-Bowles Social Security proposal is nearly identical to mine. Nice work, Peter!

But seriously: he’s right. Overall, it’s a fairly progressive plan:

Compared with the benefits promised by the current system, the recommended benefits for the poorest 20 percent of recipients would increase by about 5 percent, while those for the wealthiest retirees would fall by almost 20 percent. Furthermore, the plan would not create private accounts within Social Security — the most controversial issue that came up when reform was last debated in 2005. Why not lock in a reform when private accounts are off the table?.

….All of which suggests that Democrats in Congress should support the basic construct of the Bowles-Simpson proposal, while arguing for some changes to improve it. That has not, however, been their reaction thus far.

As Orszag also notes, the biggest flaw in the plan is that it raises the retirement age from 67 to 68. This is regressive, unfair to low-income workers with shorter life expectancies, and could be easily eliminated by rebalancing the entire plan so it has roughly a 50-50 split between revenue increases and benefit reductions. But that’s fairly easily done. Bottom line: liberals should be giving the Social Security reform section of the Simpson-Bowles plan a little more love than they have so far.

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