Yglesias splits hairs:
[A]s the headline writers put it on the front page of The Washington Post “Candidates Diverge on How to Save Social Security”. Because in headlineland, saving a program and destroying a program under pretext of saving it are just two different ways of saving it.
I think Matt should simmer down. And the point of his intransigent thirdrailism just isn’t clear to me. Most Americans think of Social Security as a system that delivers checks in old age. The system as currently constituted can’t keep delivering those checks indefinitely. Now, a system of personal accounts of the kind successfully established by many successful, wealthy, liberal societies much like our own, such as Sweden or Australia, is a demonstrably successful way of keeping the checks coming. For all but those who fixate on the fake redistributive optics of the status quo system, this would amount to “saving Social Security.”
Anyway, I have a dream that President Barack Obama will decide to privatize Social Security, because it’s the sensible and moral thing to do. Democrats will be extremely confused for a couple months, but then will decide that this is in fact the greatest idea ever. Roles will reverse and Republicans will enlist the AARP and Jonathan Chait to kill it in a repeat of 2005, but their hearts aren’t in it, and they lose. Obama’s successful Jason Furman-lead transformation of the Social Security system is incredibly popular with the younger voters who put him into office and and sets him in such a strong centrist position that he completely crushes Romney in 2012. Are you listening Barack?
Anyway, it’s going to happen sooner or later. And we’ll probably keep calling it “Social Security.”