Lawmakers shouldn't be so quick to rule out changes or cuts to Social Security, a top Senate Democrat participating in bipartisan Gang of Six talks says in a new interview.
Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinKushner meets with lawmakers about criminal justice reform: report Dem leaders give centrists space on Gorsuch Republicans seek to lower odds of a shutdown MORE (D-Ill.), the majority whip who's negotiating with two other Democrats and three Republicans on a major deficit-reduction plan, broke from more liberal members of his party, who want to safeguard Social Security from any changes.
"If we deal with it today, it's an easier solution than waiting. I think we ought to deal with it. Many of my colleagues disagree, [and would] put it off to another day," Durbin said of Social Security in a video interview with ABC News posted Tuesday. "But from my point of view, leaving it out makes it easier politically — including it, I think, meets an obligation, which we have to senior citizens."
But any changes suggested by the Gang of Six — which consists of Durbin, along with Sens. Mark WarnerMark WarnerLive coverage: Senate intel holds first public Russia hearing Dem leaders give centrists space on Gorsuch Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators tout progress on Russia probe | Trump pressed to secure critical infrastructure | House beefs up cellphone security MORE (D-Va.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissSpicer: Trump will 'help the team' if needed in Georgia special election Wyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability MORE (R-Ga.), Tom CoburnTom CoburnDon't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways MORE (R-Okla.) and Mike CrapoMike CrapoLawmakers call for pilot program to test for energy sector vulnerabilities Senators war over Wall Street during hearing for Trump's SEC pick Overnight Finance: Biz groups endorse Trump's Labor pick | New CBO score coming before health bill vote | Lawmakers push back on public broadcasting cuts MORE (R-Idaho) — could meet stiff resistance from other Democrats, a possibility Durbin acknowledged.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWhat if there’s no 'Nuclear Option' in the Senate? Republican failure Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral MORE (D-Nev.) has been vociferously opposed to any changes to Social Security, going so far as to say that he'd examine Social Security only 20 years from now (by which point he'd presumably be gone from Congress). That's when Social Security is expected to face the worst of its financial crisis.
The resolution by Sanders is intended to underscore liberal fears that Social Security would be neutered by any comprehensive plan to address long-term debt, but Durbin said that resolution goes "too far" and would constrain lawmakers too much in their ability to make changes to the program.
Nonetheless, Durbin suggested that his colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle are beginning to see the light when it comes to deficits and debt, though not without some reluctance.
"Many of my friends on the left — and they are my friends; these are my roots, politically — are going through the stages of grief. Denial, anger, frustration, sadness, resignation," he said. "Because they understand that borrowing 40 cents for every dollar you spend, whether it's for a missile or food stamps, is just unsustainable."