Harry Reid: Social Security “Off The Table”

Any chance of significant entitlement reform before the 2012 elections (and probably after then too) has just gone out the window:

As Congress debates measures to reduce the deficit, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared Social Security “off the table” in a web video posted Monday.

Reid’s sweeping rejection comes as congressional Republicans are calling for reductions in Social Security benefits, arguing that cuts to the program should be part of any long-term deficit reduction plan.

“The reason they’re going after Social Security is that’s where the money is,” Reid said. “They want to take money that isn’t theirs.”

The video is of a Capitol event with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a frenemy of the majority leader that accused him of being a weak leader during the public option fight. Reid and the PCCC — an online progressive advocacy group that claims more than half a million members — are in full agreement, however, when it comes to Social Security. The PCCC held the event to thank Reid for taking an aggressive stand recently in defense of the old-age and disability insurance program.

“As long as I’m the majority leader, I’m going to do everything within my legislative powers to prevent privatizing or eliminating Social Security — put simply, say, ‘It’s off the table,'” said Reid in remarks that will likely be referenced in the future as the debate over Social Security continues.

Republicans want to take defense spending off the table. Democrats want to take entitlements off the table. Tell me how we’re going to solve our fiscal problems now. (Short answer: we’re not)

FILED UNDER: Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. MstrB says:

    It is kind of funny that Reid is criticizing someone for wanting to take money that isn’t theirs.

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    Social Security just needs some tax tweaks in about a decade and it’ll be fine. There’s no real need to mess with it.

    Medicare, on the other hand, does. But considering that Republicans demonized the cuts that Democrats made to Medicare during the last election, I don’t see any willingness to move on it.

  3. ratufa says:

    What he said in the quote you gave was that “privatizing or eliminating Social Security” is “off the table”. That’s a pretty standard Democratic position. Nothing new, here.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    ‘What he said in the quote you gave was that ‘privatizing or eliminating Social Security’ is ‘off the table’.’

    But isn’t it a libertarian wet dream to do just that with Social Security? Of course some would see that option not even being considered as a horrible thing…

  5. Steven Plunk says:

    Both Social Security and defense spending have to be in play for serious deficit reduction. I expect they both will actually be talked about regardless of any political posturing.

  6. john personna says:

    Aren’t “cuts off the table?”

    No need to be more specific than that.

  7. sam says:


    “Both Social Security and defense spending have to be in play for serious deficit reduction”

    Not Social Security in any major way, as Alex pointed out, but for sure Medicare.

  8. Axel Edgren says:

    Yeah, trying to compare Soc. Sec. with the other problems is ridiculous and deliberately misinforming.

  9. Richard says:

    I understand and sympathize with the libertarian position that people should be free to manage their own affairs, but we saw from the past century that individuals mostly suck at planning for the long term. They usually cannot plan far ahead enough to make the “rational” choice or they know what the rational choice is but go contrary to that. It’s so frustrating as an acolyte of incentives.

    It’s part of the social bargain since we don’t seem to want the elderly starving and dying in the streets.