There are five parts ot the federal budget: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, National defence, Interest on the Debt and All Other Discretionary Spending. If the United States is going to get its fiscal house in order, it will need to restructure its debt (which it is doing) and cut costs in the other four categories.
Cutting Social Security benefits is seen by most political analysts as especially difficult. The chief financial concern of ageing Americans is that they don’t/won’t have enough money set aside for retirement. President George W. Bush’s campaign to reform Social Security in 2005 went nowhere. Older people vote in disproportionately high numbers. Everything aligns against any attempt to “reform” the nation’s most important social welfare program.
That may, finally, be changing. The Wall Street Journal today reports that the Board of Directors of AARP has dropped its long-standing opposition to cuts in Social Security benefits. This is a huge political development, since Social Security “reform” is literally impossible without AARP support.
The WSJ reports:
“The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens,” said John Rother, AARP’s long-time policy chief and a prime mover behind its change of heart.
The shift, which has been vetted by AARP’s board and is now the group’s stance, could have a dramatic effect on the debate surrounding the future of the federal safety net, from pensions to health care, given the group’s immense clout.
“If they come around and say they’re ready to do something, it will be like the Arctic icecap cracking,” said former Sen. Alan Simpson, co-chairman of a White House commission on the deficit. He has frequently assailed the group as a barrier to progress.
Read the whole thing here.
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