At an event with progressive activists last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took major Social Security cuts and privatization completely off the legislative table.
“As long as I’m the Majority Leader, I’m going to do everything within my legislative powers to prevent privatizing or eliminating Social Security,” Reid said. “I’ll simply say it’s off the table.”
You can watch video of the event below, courtesy of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The key quote comes at the end of the clip.
Reid’s been a pretty staunch defender of Social Security, but this statement goes a bit further than previous ones. Most recently, on Meet the Press, he said he wouldn’t be a part of any effort to undermine the program. But now, he’s taken privatization and raising the retirement age off the table.
That’s significant given a fairly broad consensus among conservative Democrats and Republicans that the retirement age should be bumped up. With Republicans in control of the House, the Senate could end up being the firewall protecting Social Security from those sorts of cuts.
In recent weeks, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has made knocking Reid for his opposition to Social Security cuts into a sort of political sport. But Reid’s right that Social Security will be solvent for years into the future, and could be made indefinitely solvent with a minor payroll tax hike on high-income earners. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week walked back his call to raise the retirement age to 70, pending a full Congressional debate on that question.
Watch the video below:
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.