A bright spot in the debt ceiling debate might have been the growing, bipartisan admission that Social Security is a driver of our long-term debt problem and needs reform. It may have been a ploy to try to get Republicans to accept tax hikes, but it's certainly helpful for the President to admit that Social Security is unsustainable in the long-term and that ultimately reductions in the benefits promised to future generations of Social Security need to be scaled back.
Unfortunately, those remarks were met with the usual howls of protest from the Left—particularly from old guard feminists, including Nancy Pelosi, who remain stuck on the old shtick of claiming that any suggestion to change Social Security benefits in any way is an assault on the elderly and women.
These protests ignore that essentially all current proposals to reform Social Security exempt those in or near retirement, and tend to affect only those who these liberal groups would characterize as “the rich” if we were talking about taxes. IWF's Sabrina Schaeffer describes why the current Social Security system, even if it was sustainable, is less than ideal for women, and is based on an out-dated vision of women's role in society.
Now the President has also stepped up the misinformation campaign to try to scare seniors that a failure to raise the debt limit will mean that their Social Security checks will stop. As IWF's Anna Rittgers explains here, there is absolutely no reason that Social Security checks couldn't be paid even absent a debt ceiling increase. This is pure politics—and politics at its worst — at work.
A lasting solution to our nation's debt problems will require honest conversations about unavoidable changes to our entitlement programs. This will require real, honest political leaders, which means that much of the current crop needs to be voted out in 2012.