WASHINGTON, March 20 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
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.