A Tale of Three Commissions: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Eric Kingson was an advisor to the 1982 National Commission on Social Security Reform and to the 1994 Bipartisan Commission on Entitlements and Tax Reform. Drawing on the experience of 1982 (the “Good”) and 1994 (the “Bad”) commissions, he concludes that the fast-track debt commission as proposed by Senators Kent Conrad and Judd Gregg would result in an unprecedented and deleterious approach to Social Security policy-making. The structure and functioning of the 1994 commission provides insight into likely goals and functioning of the Conrad-Gregg Commission, a commission Kingson suggests would be akin to the 1994 entitlement commission “on steroids.” Noting the disregard for traditional congressional processes and the mischaracterization of Social Security as part of a unified “entitlements” problem, Kingson concludes that Senator Max Baucus is not exaggerating when he warned on the Senate floor that “Senators Conrad and Gregg have painted a big red target on Social Security and Medicare. That's what this commission is all about.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalPoverty & Public Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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