According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, three Democratic senators are breaking ranks over including Social Security changes in the debate with Republicans over deficit-reduction packages. Although no budget savings are proposed in changes, some Democrats believe they can secure concessions from some Republicans on tax increases if they include changes to Social Security.
The perpetrators of the plan are a so called, "Gang of Six", that includes Democrats, Mark Warner (VA), Kent Conrad (ND) and Richard Durbin (IL); and Republicans, Saxby Chambliss (GA), Tom Coburn (OK) and Mike Crapo (ID). While the leadership seeks no viable connections between the deficit and Social Security, this group of senators believe it opens the door to finding consensus on reaching a deal to cut $4 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years.
Potential changes in the plan would likely include raising the retirement age, over time, increasing Social Security taxes for wealthy workers and trimming benefits for some groups.
Senator Warner concedes that the Senate would be unlikely to reach a deficit-reduction deal without considerations for Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements. It is unclear how much traction the group will have in generating larger support for their negotiations, along with dealing with powerful lobbying groups, such as the AARP.
AARP officials noted that changes to Social Security warrant discussion, but they do not support it being included in budget discussions. They would staunchly defend against any changes they feel go too far in impacting their constituency.
The Obama Administration has not been willing to support the idea of including Social Security in negotiations over deficit reduction. Similar to the AARP, the Administration prefers that proposals to make the program more sustainable be considered separately.