Friday, April 29, 2005

Yglesias on SSDI and the President's New Direction on Social Security Privatization

Over at TAPPED, Matthew Yglesias has this analysis of what the President's remarks last night imply for Social Security disability benefits:

And, of course, disability benefits will also have to be cut. The president has consistently maintained that he doesn't want to do this, but there's a reason why every formal plan you see (i.e., the commission report that was the basis for the first White House pseudo-plan, the Pozen plan that's the basis of the new one, etc.) cuts disability benefits: It's not clear that it's possible to avoid these cuts. The current program structure links the benefit formulae so you can't change one without changing the other in any sort of straightforward way. Obviously, there's nothing stopping a clever person from disentangling the formulae and working this out, but somebody would need to actually do the work. And irrespective of what you did, the disability benefits would wind up being somewhat different, though perhaps pretty similar. If the White House is serious about protecting disability benefits, they'll have to start speaking honestly about the budgetary impact of this, and start doing the hard work of figuring out how to do it. Until then, I think it's safe to say that the plan is to cut disability benefits and just lie about it.


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