The Wall Street Journal is reporting good news on the Social Security front: the White House has decided to leave changes to Social Security out of their proposed budget, hopefully bringing an end their outreach to Republicans on negotiating changes to the system.
The White House last month considered offering specific benefit cuts and tax increases to shore up Social Security's finances, but ultimately decided to back off.
Officials weighed suggesting that Congress raise the ceiling on wages subject to the Social Security payroll tax and allow benefits to rise more slowly than under current law, according to three people familiar with the deliberations. The hope was to engage Republicans in talks.
But aides decided against putting forward the ideas, sure to be unpopular, without a clear signal from Republicans that they were ready to talk. As a result, the budget President Barack Obama will release Monday won't include any specific proposals to alter Social Security.
Given what we've seen from Republicans--the Rep. Paul Ryan roadmap to privatization embraced by House GOP leadership and Sen. Richard Shelby's "raise the retirement age 'til everyone eligible is dead" plan--this is the only sensible solution, and a good indication that the White House has finally learned that Republicans just cannot be negotiated with, particularly on the stuff that matters the most to non-corporate Americans.
It's also encouraging given that there's also a definite push from some Democrats to embrace the catfood commission's unofficial recommendations, coming from Sens. Kent Conrad and Dick Durbin. Hopefully, by not including any Social Security proposals in their budget, the White House takes it off the table in the Democratically-controlled Senate, and Conrad's vanity project to "save" Social Security by sacrificing old and sick people withers and dies.
On another note, here's a rather remarkable paragraph to see coming from a traditional media source--the WSJ, no less--on Social Security.
Social Security's problems aren't immediate, but are instead long-term. Last year, Social Security paid out more in benefits than it collected in taxes. By 2037, experts project, funds accumulated by the program will be exhausted and taxes will only cover about three-fourths of promised benefits.
In other words, there's plenty of time to put Social Security on a long-term substantial footing. Could it be the message is actually getting through?