No more evading

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Did you hear what the presidential candidates in both parties had to say about the need to reform Social Security and how to go about doing it?

Probably not. That's because very few of the candidates have - in their position papers or public comments - wanted to go near the proverbial third rail. In fact, most of them seem to be going out of their way not to talk about Social Security and its problems.

That certainly isn't leadership, or anything resembling it. But it is awfully predictable. Presidential elections have become nothing more than popularity contests, and anyone who tells the truth about how Social Security knows it will be stretched to the limit by the pending retirement of 78 million baby boomers. Saving the program is going to take some major reforms, none of which will be pleasant or painless. So, advocating such change is not going to be very popular with voters.



Too bad. The American people need answers, not to mention leaders who are brave enough to ask the questions.

What is even more galling is that what needs to be done isn't exactly a state secret. The issue of Social Security reform has been discussed and dissected for many years. We have to settle on one or more of the following adjustments: increasing payroll taxes, cutting future benefits, raising the retirement age, creating private savings accounts and means-testing so that the wealthy forgo collecting benefits altogether.

No matter what path we choose, some special interest group is going to be up in arms. But that is no excuse for elected officials ducking one of the most important issues of our time, especially if you happen to be running for the highest office in the land.

So let's start hearing some specific ideas about how to fix Social Security from the presidential candidates - or let's get other candidates.

Reprinted from The San Diego Union-Tribune.
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