Social Security is not a Welfare System
I think of social security as having two parts: a welfare system for old people, plus a regime of forced savings for the young. The Bush plan cuts back on the welfare angle, but also would put the forced savings in the private sector.Social Security is not a welfare program. Those who are currently receiving benefits and those who will receive benefits in the foreseeable future have participated in the system their entire lives. The payroll tax is one end of a bargain, the other being a secure minimum retirement income.
I agree with Mr. Cowen that social security reform needs to include an honest discussion about means testing - sometimes contracts can't be performed. Starting with the premise that it is a "welfare system" is not going to produce that debate.