House Budget Chair Signals Big Social Security Reforms A-Coming

The new House Budget Committee chairman hinted Monday that he had big plans for Social Security reform in the next two years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A week after the House voted on a rule that critics say could force a manufactured crisis in the disability program in late 2016, a potential leverage point for Republicans aiming for changes, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) told a conservative audience that he wanted his committee to tackle Social Security.

“What I’m hopeful is what the Budget Committee will be able do is to is begin to normalize the discussion and debate about Social Security. This is a program that right now on its current course will not be able to provide 75 or 80 percent of the benefits that individuals have paid into in a relatively short period of time,” he said at a Heritage Action for America event in Washington, D.C., according to AJC. “That’s not a responsible position to say, ‘You don’t need to do anything to do it.’”

Price, whose predecessor Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) never put forward major reform proposals in his otherwise ambitious budgets, offered means-testing and increasing the eligibility age as possibilities. He also hinted at privatizing Social Security.

“All those things ought to be on the table and discussed,” he said.

Democrats and others started sounding the alarm on Social Security after the House passed its rule last week. The rule prevented what had historically been a routine transfer of tax revenue between the retirement and disability programs to keep the latter solvent. Without it, benefits could be cut by 20 percent starting in late 2016.

The new House rule allows for a transfer only if it comes with changes that keep the overall Social Security program solvent. One of the standing questions among those watching the issue is how ambitious Republicans will be.

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