How Expanding Social Security Went From ‘Economic Fantasy’ to Mainstream Talking Point in 3 Short Years

The idea of expanding Social Security never really seemed possible. In fact, until recently, things seemed bleak. Just a few years ago, in 2012 and 2013, Republicans were pushing to cut the program, and plenty of Democrats seemed eager to give them cover. Centrist think tanks like Third Way opined that Social Security was a “populist political and economic fantasy.” Even President Obama proposed cutting benefits in his 2012 budget, through the so-called chained CPI, which would have changed the way benefits were calculated. At the time, some advisers on Obama’s economic policy team indicated that they believed it was better for Democrats to cut Social Security than Republicans. With friends like these, indeed.

The idea of expansion wasn’t even on the table. The most liberal Democratic position was “protect it.” The most extreme Republican position was “dismantle it.” The likely outcome seemed somewhere between the two positions—painful cuts that would hurt millions of seniors and veterans. We needed a new playbook.

– The Nation

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