12) Why did a Fiscal Commission charged with making recommendations to reduce the deficit propose changes to Social Security? Social Security isn’t part of the deficit problem.
The executive order creating the Fiscal Commission directed us to make recommendations for deficit reduction in the near term to achieve primary balance by 2015 and additional reforms to “meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending.” The Social Security reforms the Commission proposed had nothing to do with the first goal of reducing the deficit in the near term and everything to do with the second goal of improving our long-term fiscal outlook. No responsible plan to deal with the long-term fiscal outlook could ignore that the nation’s largest government program is headed towards insolvency.
The Social Security reforms were completely excluded from the Fiscal Commission’s calculations for short term deficit reduction and meeting the goal of primary balance by 2015. The Commission’s recommendations regarding Social Security were made to ensure that Social Security remains financially sound for future generations. Social Security is now in permanent deficit, and by 2037 its trust fund will run dry. This would result in an unacceptable 22 percent cut in benefits for all Social Security recipients. Experts from across the political spectrum agree that prompt but gradual action is the best way to avoid this abrupt cut.