Could Entitlement Reform Really Happen in 2019?

entitlement-reform-justice court capitol washington congress democratsCould entitlement reform really happen? Before you dub me naïve, historically untethered, or simply off my rocker, consider a headline – from the mainstream media, US News and World Report, in 2009. “Bipartisan Reagan-O’Neill Social Security Deal in 1983 Showed It Can Be Done.” The accompanying picture was President Reagan and Democrat House Speaker Tip O’Neill laughing, on the eve of what was almost The Compromise of the Century, permanently making Social Security solvent.

Of course, at the last minute, that historic deal collapsed – not on principle, but from what else? A touch of partisan wrangling. So, you ask, what is the point? Only this: The shape of that deal, desire for greater public accountability, urgency of rendering entitlements solvent, and the potential for bipartisanship – are all as alive today, as they were in 1983.

True, personalities have changed. The Republican President and Democrat House Speaker are not likely to laugh with each other, as often as they adopt a knowing snarl, even growl at each other. True, the level of public rancor would need to be turned down.

But here are counter-veiling facts: Average Americans are seeking responsible leadership – from both parties, staring in 2019. They are tired of incessant, irresponsible “can-kicking” on entitlements, even if they wish to preserve hard-earned benefits. They are tired of reflexive hostility to whatever “the other side” suggests, since both sides are American. They are ready for a bit more laughter, bit less nastiness.

Here are a few other encouraging signs. Just as AMAC has offered responsible legislative options that help seniors preserve what they have earned, protecting future generations and national solvency, we are at time when new congressional leaders seem to understand – Americans want action, not talk. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) even suggested – prior to midterms – that entitlements should be reexamined, options reconsidered, effort put into recrafting their solvent future.

Curiously, as I look backward to 1983, I am reminded of the cheerful spirit that attached to that near “Compromise of the Century.” In that year, I worked briefly in the Reagan White House. Although a junior staffer, I recall vividly excitement, a sense of incipient accomplishment, even shared optimism which surrounded that near – but cancelled – “Grand Compromise” ceremony.

Ground truth: It almost happened – it was that close. There was almost a Reagan-O’Neill Guaranteed Social Security Solvency compromise! A President viewed as historically conservative and House Speaker viewed as an inveterate liberal, actually almost pulled off what we would still be talking about today – a Compromise of the Century, assuring Social Security solvency ad infinitum.

Actually, even the chance of it was so historic – that we are talking about it today! If there had been such a compromise on entitlements, many older Americans – and many of us now older who were then younger – would be celebrating. We would have been eternally grateful, to those two leaders.

Of course, as history would have it, President Reagan gave us many other reasons to be grateful. And that optimist Reagan, with his fellow Irishman Tip O’Neill, found other reasons to celebrate life together – and reach worthy compromise.

But maybe that is the point: Americans would like to see a bit more of that old Reagan-O’Neill spirit in national politics. Where better to begin than with earnest discussion of how to restore intergenerational solvency to America’s historic entitlements, crafting and finalizing the long-overdue Grand Compromise of 1983 – that got away from The Gipper and Tip.

Wouldn’t that be a superb way to restore trust in American political leadership from the get-go, starting – or perhaps finishing – 2019? I think I hear a bipartisan murmur. Do you hear that too?



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Byron w Hankins
4 years ago

Just a simple reminder that this is not a entitlement we have payed for this all our working lives we have earned this so case and point not a entitlement and I am tiered of our politicians say it is a entitlement

Elena Tellez
4 years ago

I wish you were right, Mr. Charles, but I think partisan bickering and lawsuits will get worse, not better — because the two sides have polar opposite agendae and the fervor to pursue their goals without compromise.

4 years ago

As long as the dems slip the pork (guaranteeing their re-election) into any legislation that would strengthen the entitlement programs, an impasse is likely. After all, President Trump promised no more crazy mad spending bills like the last one he signed. There is only one goal among the dems–and that is to stymie the president in every effort to bolster Social Security and Medicare and any other legislation he supports. Their hatred for this man who stole the election from Hillary the Ordained supersedes any chance of bipartisan progress.

4 years ago

Yes, the author is indeed incredibly naïve to say the least. Obviously no real understanding of the Democrat agenda and the make-up of its current members. In the current Democrat agenda, Social Security is to be ended to partially fund UBI. Everyone in America gets their $5K or $6K a year. Just like existing Medicare is to be ended to partially fund what they currently call Universal Medicare (Single-Payer), where access to expensive medical care and drugs is strictly rationed based on your perceived value to society. Then across the board tax hikes would have to occur to make up the massive short-fall in revenue needed to fund these Progressive visions. That would in turn effectively kill the existing American economy.

Of course I expect that President Trump will veto any such legislation that ends up on his desk. Even if the weak-kneed establishment Republicans in the Senate went along with such an economic suicide pact for the American economy in the so-called spirit of “compromise”. Which of course would be the only intelligent option for the President to take to prevent the United States from quickly becoming just like broken Greece, France or any of the other so-called wonderful socialist democracies.

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