If President Obama wants to get things done, he’ll have to keep cooperating with Republicans—and offer a “decisive” economic message. He can accomplish both of these goals, and push himself toward reelection, with Social Security reform, writes Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. Reform would a significant symbolic move, and a bipartisan effort would be simple enough to scrawl “on the back of a napkin": basically, trim benefits for high-income earners, make the payroll tax more progressive, and up the retirement age over time (with exceptions for those who do manual labor).
Liberals say Social Security is not facing “immediate trouble,” but that argument is based “on an elaborate accounting trick” that doesn’t factor in the trust fund’s debt. And even if liberals revolt, it’s independents Obama needs behind him. “And this won't happen by being risk averse.” Such a move “would make a dramatic, timely political statement: that the president is capable not only of expanding government but of reforming it.”