In “Fixing Social Security: The Politics of Reform in a Polarized Age,” R. Douglas Arnold explores the historical role that Social Security has played in American politics, why Congress has done nothing to fix its solvency problem for three decades, and what legislators can do to save it. In his new book published by Princeton University Press, Arnold argues that, though there is nothing complicated about the mechanics of fixing social security, what remains complicated are the politics of fixing Social Security.
If you want to convince legislators to reform Social Security now, you need to put pressure on them and make it costly for them to delay. Citizens can do this through their votes, their campaign contributions, and their direct communications. Their voices will pressure legislators to introduce bills. Democrats are still sponsoring solvency bills. But Republicans are not. If citizens lean on Republicans, they might do so again. That is how you get action in the next few years.
I have no doubt that if we wait a dozen years, Congress will eventually fix the solvency problem. But the solutions will be more expensive — and more painful — than they are today.
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Arnold is the William Church Osborn Professor of Public Affairs, Emeritus, and professor of politics and public affairs, emeritus, and CSDP faculty associate at Princeton University.