Bipartisan Commission Proposes Social Security Rescue Plan
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 19) -- A private, bipartisan commission has weighed in on the looming Social Security crisis, proposing a rescue plan that could make the system solvent for 75 years without raising taxes.
The National Commission on Retirement Policy's report, unveiled on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning, recommends raising the Social Security eligibility age to 70 for people born after 1969.
It also suggests shifting two percent of the current payroll tax into personal investment accounts and a guarantee that no one would retire below the federal poverty line.
The 24-member panel, made up of bipartisan lawmakers, economists and business experts, says its recommendations could keep Social Security in the black for generations to come without biting into people's paychecks.
The commission was convened by the private Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, with Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Reps. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and Charles Stenholm (D-Texas) leading the effort.
Gregg said, "Instead of having a third rail or politics here, what this proposal does is create a passenger train on to which a lot of people can get to assure safe, sound and prosperous Social Security systems for the future."
Participants stressed that not everyone on the panel personally endorses every piece of the plan. But all agreed the total package was the best compromise they could reach.
"I'm convinced our plan ... provides a solid middle ground where I see the congressional debate going over the next year," Breaux said.
Members of the commission say raising the eligibility age is sound because Americans are living longer, more productive lives.
White House officials say they welcome any recommendations designed to save Social Security but still want to discuss them under the auspices of its own bipartisan commission and a White House conference on Social Security scheduled for this fall.
Then they say they will have laid the groundwork to write comprehensive legislation that ensures any fixes would be fair for all.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill that participated in this unprecedented bipartisan study believe there's a good chance a bill designed to incorporate at least some of these changes could pass in the next Congress.
Arguing that this is the only bipartisan plan out there, Breaux told CNN, "I think that means that it won't become a political football, at least hopefully it won't be like it has been in the past, and that means it has an opportunity I think to pass in the next Congress."
CNN's Eileen O'Connor contributed to this report.