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.