Cover image for Reforming social security for ourselves and our posterity
Reforming social security for ourselves and our posterity
Blahous, Charles P., 1963-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger ; Washington, D.C. : Published in cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, [2000]

Physical Description:
xviii, 262 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


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HD7125 .B55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Blahous contends that Social Security is ill-equipped to withstand the effects of an aging population and will impose excessive tax burdens upon future Americans unless its course is changed. Far from a doomsday tract, however, the book provides instances of proposals that would satisfactorily avert this course, if only the political will is mustered to implement them. Blahous argues for the program developed by the National Commission on Retirement Policy, but also offers positive descriptions of plausible alternatives as well as unsparing criticism of those who would cook the books in defense of either current law or high-cost alternatives. Reforming Social Security is sure to disturb ideologues from all parts of the political spectrum, because of its frank willingness to expose the costs of different approaches as well as the self-interest so often pursued by interest groups, political actors, and Social Security experts. An important analysis for the general public as well as policy makers and others concerned with social security issues.

Author Notes

Charles P. Blahous III is currently Executive Director of the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Blahous has produced a timely, comprehensive, accessible, and opinionated review of the issues involved in financing Social Security after 2020. The immediate problem is that, given current trends, Social Security will have to pay out more money (to the baby boomers) by the late 2030s than it receives from the combined payroll taxes and interest payments from the accrued current surplus. The author served on the staffs of two GOP senators and played a major role in producing the 1998 policy recommendations of the bi-partisan National Commission on Retirement Policy. Most of the book describes and defends its recommendations, especially the need to "pre-fund" benefit payments now for those who will retire after 2030 by setting aside in personal accounts about two percent of taxable payrolls. He names Democratic and Republican politicians and policy makers who helped produce those recommendations and criticizes organizations that worked to frustrate them, especially the AARP, which is discussed in an entire chapter. Though the book has a self-congratulatory tone to it, Blahous is aware that the complexity of Social Security means there is no single best financial and political solution. Interested readers will find this a sound addition to the literature. Useful index. All collections. H. Kasper; Oberlin College

Table of Contents

Senator Alan K. Simpson
Illustrationsp. ix
Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
1 The View from the Futurep. 1
2 Challenges to the Culture of Entitlementp. 9
3 The Political Inheritance of Social Securityp. 17
4 The Kerrey-Danforth Commissionp. 33
5 Social Security: Its Purposes and How It Worksp. 41
6 The Trustees' Reports and What They Say: Beyond Actuarial Solvencyp. 49
7 Dissecting the Trustees' Assumptionsp. 59
8 A Cottage Industry of Demagoguesp. 69
9 Into the Lion's Den with the AARPp. 81
10 The Congressional Debate Evolves: 1994-1997p. 89
11 A Divided Advisory Council Unites Behind Advance Fundingp. 97
12 Where Will Future Benefits Come From? A Sound and Fair Systemp. 107
13 To Fund or Not to Fund? Personal Accounts or Government Investmentp. 121
14 The Top Ten Tricks in the Social Security Debatep. 137
15 Tackling the Policy Challenges of Personal Accountsp. 153
16 Putting It All Together: How a Reformed System Can Workp. 169
17 Reaching Agreement with the NCRPp. 183
18 Slings and Arrowsp. 201
19 1998-1999: The President's Year of Discussion--Then More Discussionp. 211
20 Congress Reacts to the President's Proposalsp. 221
21 The Last, Best Hopes: The Senate Bipartisan Plan and Other Effortsp. 233
22 Where We Are and Whither We Are Tendingp. 243
Selected Bibliographyp. 251
Indexp. 253