Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), in an exclusive interview with Heritage, criticized her liberal colleagues for opposing Social Security reform, warning that they would rather increase taxes on businesses.
Hutchison singled out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for his repeated assertions that Social Security is not in trouble. Reid has gone so far as to call it a “myth” perpetuated by conservatives.
“It’s clearly in trouble if its own trustees say its going bankrupt in 25 years,” Hutchison said in the interview. “If that’s not a signal to everyone that we’ve got to do something now, then I don’t know what it would take. You can either do something gradually so that it doesn’t hurt very much, but will keep it solvent in the long run, or you can do drastic things, which of course Harry Reid would like to increase the taxes on employers.”
Hutchison, who spoke about her reform plan last week at Heritage, said Social Security can be easily and effectively reformed — and must be to save the program from bankruptcy.
Social Security’s trustees alarmed many lawmakers last month with the prediction that the program would go bankrupt by 2036 if nothing is done. That’s a year earlier than last year’s projections.
Hutchison’s proposal would save Social Security without tax increases or core benefit cuts. It involves gradually increasing the Social Security age by 3 months, starting in 2016. With citizens in better health than at the start of Social Security, her plan is also a response to societal changes.
Hutchison made that case that Social Security reform should be part of any compromise Republican lawmakers strike with President Obama on the debt ceiling. The nation’s massive $14.3 trillion debt is one of the most critical issues facing Congress. While lawmakers have been debating a debt-limit increase, Hutchison believes reforms cannot be achieved through discretionary spending cuts alone.