Why are these politicians smiling?
Social Security reform is coming. You can tell by the smiling nice guy personas being adopted around Washington in uncommon bipartisan fashion.
There’s Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. “If we’re smart, we can adjust those programs in ways that minimize the impact,” he reassures the viewers of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
After all, Sessions says there’s no reason seniors should have to worry about losing their Social Security (who says they would?) or see it “savaged in any significant way.”
Never mind the bizarre implication that it might somehow be savaged in an insignificant way.
These are not fighting words like the ones that adorned political speech before the Giffords shooting in Arizona.
That’s because politicians who talk tough about Social Security can wind up sleeping with the fishes, electorally speaking, and because political sharpies are getting the idea that the public is just about scared enough by the deficit to accept some change to the financially ailing government pension program.
People inside the big white mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue also want to avoid violent metaphors like any permutation of the verb to slash.
President Barack Obama himself used the preferred buzz words at his press conference, saying he wants to “strengthen” Social Security for “future generations”.
“I think we can do that without slashing benefits or putting current retirees at risk,” he said.
Even Rand Paul, Kentucky’s Tea Party firebrand in the U.S. Senate, seems to coo into the camera when he talks about Social Security.
He wants to reform it now in a gradual “reasonable fashion”.
But Paul is also not afraid to let the cat out of the bag: “The age of eligibility will have to rise. If you raise the age of eligibility gradually, and we’re talking about those 55 and under, you fix the problem with Social Security, the majority of it,” he says in a separate MSNBC appearance.
So there you have it. Republicans and the White House agree. Social Security reform is coming. But there there, Gran. Not to worry.
Meanwhile, on federal workers…
Reuters Photo Credits: Jonathan Ernst (Jeff Sessions); White House Pool (Barack Obama); Jonathan Ernst (Rand Paul)
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