Rich Tucker

That?s 39 out of 435, or about 9 percent. Many of those were open seats (no incumbent) or in Texas, where a rare mid-decade redistricting scheme created several competitive races. So Rep. Simmons, like the overwhelming majority of House members, should be pretty safe as long as his actions make sense. And fixing Social Security now, before it becomes an albatross, makes sense.

Rep. Simmons ought to be willing, even eager, to explain to voters that, as Heritage Foundation economist David John writes, ?Social Security will need almost $27 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2004 dollars) in additional funding over the next 75 years.? Voters know it would be virtually impossible to raise that much, even if we increase taxes, increase borrowing and slash all other government spending to the bone.

He could also point out that while the cost of establishing Personal Retirement Accounts is indeed steep -- in the neighborhood of $7 trillion -- that?s less than a third of the $27 trillion we?ll have to raise if we don?t enact reform.

President Bush and his advisors seem confident the American people understand that Social Security is becoming a crisis. He promised reform while on the campaign trail last fall and still won re-election.

Still, there?s no doubt that reforming Social Security involves some political risks. Some congressmen may actually lose their jobs if they vote for reform. Reform involves other risks as well. If there?s a decades? long stock market crash years from now, PRAs might not even work. Of course, in that case we?ll all be growing potatoes in our backyards, too, so retirement would hardly be a concern.

It?s crystal clear that if we don?t fix Social Security, it will dump a crushing load of debt on our children and grandchildren. Let?s do what?s right, as our predecessors did, and leave our descendents a better country.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for