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Social Security Cuts “Off the Table,” Says Reid

Harry Reid took Social Security off the table in an event with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee last week. He said at the event, where he received 50,000 petitions from citizens opposed to changes to the social insurance program, “As long as I’m the Majority Leader, I’m going to do everything within my legislative powers to prevent privatizing or eliminating Social Security. I’ll simply say it’s off the table.”

Reid has been the best shot for progressive activists opposed to Social Security cuts. John Boehner obviously isn’t reachable, and while Barack Obama reassured many in the State of the Union when he announced his opposition to “slashes” in the program, he hasn’t been a rock on the issue. Reid is the only of the three leaders who appears legitimately opposed to messing around with Social Security.

It’s worth parsing his remarks, however. He calls Social Security the most successful social insurance program in the history of the world, and says that the notion that the program is in crisis is a myth and not true. He rejects balancing the budget on the backs of seniors. He says all the right things, in short. But at that key moment, he pledges to “prevent privatizing or eliminating Social Security.” That leaves the door open a crack for something he can claim “saves” Social Security.

However, it’s probably best at this point to reward good behavior and try to hold him to his promise.

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David Dayen

David Dayen