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Political courage is a no-show in shoring up Social Security

Truth comes, not just from the mouths of babes, but from the mouths of retiring bureaucrats as well.

Outgoing Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue, who ended his six-year term Wednesday, offered blunt appraisals of Congress, the White House and advocates for seniors in an interview with The Associated Press.

All three entities, he said, “really walked away from Social Security,” leaving the program “fraying because of inattention to its problems.”

He told The AP benefit cuts and tax increases were inevitable yet questioned whether Congress was up to the task.

Sadly, Astrue is correct. Everyone knows what needs to be done but the politicians don’t have the courage to offend their respective constituencies and forge an imperfect compromise.

That failure to make the hard choices is also apparent as the automatic cuts of sequestration approach on March 1. Democrats and Republicans alike refuse to compromise in order to avoid what almost all agree will be damaging and arbitrary cuts.

Until political courage and statesmanship can be found among our leaders we appear to be destined to lurch from crisis to crisis in a manner that’s almost certain to jeopardize our economic recovery.

Mike O’Rourke

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
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