McJoan got an answer out of a Harry Reid aide about his commitment to fighting for Social Security. Yesterday, it was revealed that he told a gathering that “privatizing or eliminating Social Security” was off the table. That leaves quite a bit of wiggle room. What about increasing the retirement age, for example?

“Senator Reid is absolutely opposed to raising the retirement age and is ready for any fight that comes his way on this particular issue.”

As this is seen as the sensible centrist alternative, given its appearance in the Bowles-Simpson cat food plan and as a favorable solution for many Democrats (Hoyer, Clyburn, Durbin), it’s good to see Reid oppose it so vehemently. And if Reid opposes increasing the retirement age, it’s a good bet he opposes other measures that would lower benefits.

We know where Republicans are on this, and we know that several Democrats want to set a course for austerity. Reid becomes a very central figure in these debates, then. He is the only Democratic leader being this unequivocal.

David Dayen

David Dayen