Imagine for a moment that we were having a different sort of Social Security debate. In this alternative universe it wouldn't be about reform or privatization or who had the best plan to save Social Security. The issues would be different. The question would be whether we should abolish Social Security and replace it with a system of loosely-federally-regulated 401ks, or not.
It wouldn't be abolished overnight, of course, but phased out over time. So any oldsters collecting benefits now wouldn't need to worry. And the same would probably go for pre-fogies too ... say, anyone over 55.
But that's the essence of it: abolishing Social Security or not.
Well, guess what? That is exactly the debate we're having. Only many of Social Security's defenders don't seem to know it. It's not that they don't know it exactly. They, more than anyone, understand the stakes involved. But for all the great facts they're bringing to the table, they still seem content to frame the argument in a way that obscures the true issues involved and benefits their opponents immeasurably.
If the shoe were on the other foot, Republicans would not make the same mistake.