Economics, Entitlements

Another entitlements commission?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

It’s something of a Washington tradition to form entitlement commissions—and to mock them when they’re formed. That’s especially true when the sponsor of the latest one, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, states that the group would be “patterned after President Barack Obama’s 2010 deficit commission,” which the White House established and then ignored.

Nevertheless, I think Durbin’s idea is a good one. If Congress were able to fix Social Security as part of the “regular order,” it would have done so, oh, twenty years ago. As I’ve noted before, there’s a sad irony in Congress admitting that it’s incapable of managing the entitlement programs that form the major part of the federal government’s business. But, as they say, it is what it is.

Under Durbin’s plan, the 18-member commission—6 from each party, plus 6 for the president—would have 6 months to consider possible changes to make the program solvent. At the end of that time, if a proposal can garner support from 14 members, it would sent to the House and Senate for an up-or-down vote.

So let the commission be formed and do its work. We might get lucky this time—and there aren’t many other options available.

4 thoughts on “Another entitlements commission?

  1. The very first thing you have to decide is how much we can afford to allocate to entitlements and I’d say that process starts with deciding what we should allocate to National Defense – then what is left would be divided between the rest of govt and entitlements.

    but when your process is open-ended for both – the result is endless arguing and push back – what we have right now.

    We have available to us about 1.5T in general fund revenues

    How much of that do we want to allocate to National Defense?

    When I hear someone provide a number, I’ll know they are serious.

    As long as people avoid this reality, I know they are not.

  2. This idea is doomed to fail because conservatives have no desire to help government work or just modernize itself.The Republican Party desires an oligarchy all of their policies are designed for that system of governing.When the poor or non elite become empowered in this nation conservatives feel threatened.

  3. Since it is now accepted that there is no rigid relationship between payroll tax paid and social security benefits received, and since the amount of income subject to social security tax goes up each year with inflation, why not increase that cap by inflation plus some additional increase (for example maybe 20%) ad infinitum, without any corresponding increase in benefits? Perhaps this would raise enough revenue to reduce the employer and employee payroll tax rates. This is not an expert suggestion, because I’m obviously not an expert, so I welcome devastating criticism.

    • there never was a “rigid” relationship. From the beginning it was called “insurance”.

      But social security is not the entitlement that is in trouble RIGHT NOW. It will have some problems – by no means fatal – downstream in a few years if some modest reforms are not made.

      the entitlements with the problems RIGHT NOW are Medicare Part B and MedicAid but those two together consume about a trillion and Medicare can be fixed relatively easily by increasing the premiums on par with how SS is means-tested already and requiring a mandatory 20% co-pay to require seniors to have some skin in the game.

      MedicAid is the harder one to deal with.

      but none of the above reforms can take place until we have some firm idea of what percent of our available revenues will go to National Defense.

      Without that decision – the back and forth between entitlements and other spending will continue on in an ideological war with no real intent to make decisions other than to advocate in essence that all entitlements are bad and have to be gotten rid of – a position that 80% of American voters oppose.

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