Republicans have signaled they want to force a fight over Social Security in the coming Congress and, almost immediately, Democrats have pulled out their big gun in the public debate over the program: privatization.
The House passed a rule earlier this month that blocked a transfer of tax revenues from the retirement to disability funds, the latter of which will start being unable to pay full benefits to its 11 million beneficiaries in late 2016. They were clear that they wanted to force a debate, with conservative wonks hoping they would use it to change Social Security as a whole, as Democrats have also warned they might.
So Democrats almost immediately started to use the 'P' word, which is a powerful political tool. President George W. Bush's 2005 plan to privatize Social Security turned into a political disaster after Democrats eventually coalesced around a clear, direct anti-privatization message, and the specter of privatization maintains rhetorical potency.
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