Proposals from the President’s reform commission constitute a real compromise. The commission’s plans incorporate accounts, as desired by the President (and 72 percent of Americans aged 18–64, according to a recent Gallup poll). However, these accounts would be voluntary, and everyone aged 55 and over would be completely protected against any changes whatsoever (despite election‐year rhetoric to the contrary). Moreover, the commission’s plans contain valuable new protections: minimum wage workers would be guaranteed to retire above the poverty line; lower‐wage widows would see substantial benefit increases; and account assets would be split evenly between divorcing spouses.
The Bush commission’s plans are not everything the left would like, but go a long way toward addressing their legitimate concerns. Account opponents, on the other hand, make no effort to bridge the gap with the majority of Americans who want the opportunity to own and invest a portion of their Social Security taxes.