Cornell Law Review Volume 92 Issue 2

Social Security and Government Deficits: When Should We Worry?

During his 2006 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush faced an unexpected show of unity from Democratic legislators. After the President noted, with visible regret, that Congress had failed to push forward his plan to privatize at least part of the Social Security program, the Democrats—who had precious little to cheer about in the President’s speech up to that point—spontaneously rose to their feet and applauded. The Democrats were clearly proud that they had prevented what they viewed as an assault on a signature social program and had derailed the major domestic policy initiative of the President’s second term. After regaining his composure, President Bush shook his finger at the Democratic side of the chamber and stated, “[Y]et the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away—and with every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.” He then called on Congress to create a bipartisan commission “to examine the full impact of Baby Boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”


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