U.S. Senator Durbin to push Social Security reform commission

WASHINGTON, March 20 Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:59pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - The No. 2 U.S. Senate Democrat said on Wednesday he will introduce legislation to form a task force to find ways of shoring up the U.S. Social Security retirement program for the next 75 years.

Assistant Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin said the panel would be modeled after the "Simpson-Bowles" deficit-reduction commission that made recommendations to Congress at the end of 2010, but failed to garner enough support to push its comprehensive budget savings through Congress.

"People have been receptive to it. I think we can move forward," Durbin, of Illinois, told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives had no immediate comment on the idea.

Retiring "baby boomers," those born between 1946 and 1964, will place an increasingly heavy burden on the Social Security pension program. Approximately 10,000 baby boomers will hit age 65 every day for the next 17 years or so, according to the Pew Research Center.

The last time major reforms were enacted for Social Security was 1983, when the program also faced fiscal difficulties. Then, a commission that had been formed in 1981 made recommendations to Congress that were adopted, including tax increases to bring more revenues into the program and raising the retirement age.

Republicans have been pushing for reforms of Social Security, as well as the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs for the elderly, disabled and poor, as part of deficit-reduction negotiations with President Barack Obama that could unfold over the next few months.

But Democrats have resisted including the self-financing Social Security program in those budget talks.

On Wednesday, Durbin called the task force idea "a thoughtful, sensible way to do it (reforms) and say it is separate from the deficit and debt debate."

While many Democrats have insisted that reforming Social Security be kept separate from the highly-partisan deficit-reduction efforts that have dominated Congress since 2011, Obama has opened the door to some small changes.

In previous budget negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, the two have discussed wringing some savings from Social Security by changing the formula for calculating retirees' cost-of-living increases.

Durbin's proposed group would be made up of 18 members, six appointed by Obama, six House members and six senators, equally split between Democrats and Republicans.

If 14 out of 18 commission members embraced the ideas, they would be put on a fast track to passage in the Senate and House of Representatives. The panel would have six months to produce and vote on a plan.

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Comments (10)
EricJaffa wrote:
Most people lack enough money for retirement.

Cutting Social Security (through Chained CPI or a later retirement age) would take us in the wrong direction.

Mar 20, 2013 3:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Ellestee wrote:
Dear Mr. President,
We the people of the United States of America implore you, nay, we demand that you, as a man of principle and man of letters , a man who represents us – to take back the meaning of the word entitlement. Some of those who have robbed our Social Security and Medicare systems are using this word against us. They are turning the word entitlement into a dirty word – as if what we are entitled to is something we are demanding without the right to demand it. Sir, you know that this is not the case. We the people of the United States of America, we who have dutifully and lawfully paid into this system are in fact entitled to the benefits for which we paid. This simple statement is true. The Congress of the United States, along with their high ranking and well paid supporters, have stolen from our system. They would have us believe that they are entitled to do so and they have spent a great deal of time, money and energy to convince the American people that in fact this money belongs to them. They would have us believe that we are not entitled to anything, they would have us believe that the contract they made with us is able to be unilaterally voided. Many people of the United States of America have been coerced by lies and pretty colored charts to believe that we no longer are a party to either our government or our future. You Sir are the only person with the authority and the audacity of hope to inform the Congress of the American people, in public and with full transparency, that those who lie to our faces in Congress and elsewhere are not entitled to take our money or to deny us our entitlements. For we are in fact entitled to them. We Sir want a full honest and timely accounting of what has happened to our money – where it has been diverted, by whom and at what interest rate it will be paid back and upon what timetable. We, the people of the United States of America are the government Sir and all those in positions to represent us are accountable to us. You Sir, Congress, and all other people paid by us are not entitled to lie, cheat and steal from us. This unfortunately is what many in those ranks would have us believe is the reason they are elected. They have begun to believe their own lies. This, Mr. President, is a dangerous time in our history. Mr. President – you are our only hope. Those in Congress and other places are running rough shod over our good names, over our good nature, over our future and over our faith in the American process of government. This fight may be your shining hour Sir. We, the People of the United States of America are counting on you to not back down. We the People of the United States of America need you to stand strong against those who would use our language and our belief in our Constitution against us. This Mr. President is why we elected you at this time in our history. Respectfully, Launa Taylor

Mar 20, 2013 4:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jrs75 wrote:
Well, well another commission, let’s study it to death, still no action to solve anything

Mar 20, 2013 4:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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