The Third Rail: What To Do With Social Security?

Talk of a "free market" alternative is replaced with "personalized accounts for the next generation that cannot be raided."

Still, that careful rebranding will be complicated by comments she made Friday, when she apparently referred to Chile as a model for privatizing social security in the future, according to a short AP write-up.

Democrats Hope To Turn Attention From Economy

For their part, Democrats are intent on convincing voters that Republicans want to privatize the whole system.

"Republicans are dead set on privatizing or eliminating Social Security to please their Wall Street backers," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee National Press Secretary Deirdre Murphy." Democrats will continue to stand up for our seniors and call out Republicans who want to leave them high and dry."

Of course, most Republicans do not want to fully privatize social security. And Democrats, by and large, are in search of something to talk about other than the persistently bad economy.

"Democrats are trying to get every republican on the record, pledging something that they can take to seniors to tell them republicans want to or do away with, or privatize social security," said Nathan Gonzales, Political Editor at the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

But he said changing the subject from the economy will be challenging.

"Most voters are concerned about the current economic situation rather than a hypothetical social security situation," he said.

With the President's bipartisan debt reduction commission mulling what changes in the entitlement system to suggest, progressive groups are concerned that the threat to social security from a deficit trimming-Congress is not hypothetical.

Progressive Groups Seek A "No Cuts" Pledge

But for some progressive activists, no change is acceptable.

To proposals of changing the retirement age, they say it would adversely affect blue collar workers. "There is a class bias in that," said Robert Borsage, of the Campaign for America's Future.

"For people who are using their bodies instead of their minds, a lot of them are limping to get to retirement at 62, much less 70," he said.

If the groups are successful in drawing enough Democrats to pledge absolutely no cuts to social security, it could very well confound the President's own debt commission.

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