In shift, Reid open to Social Security changes in debt deal

In a major shift, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Tuesday he is willing to consider changes to Social Security as part of a grand bargain that includes at least $4 trillion in cuts to federal spending.

“I am only willing to take a look at Medicare and Medicaid if there is a grand bargain, a grand bargain of more than $4 trillion that has significant revenue raisers,” said Reid.

“Social Security is … the same as Medicare and Medicaid, yes,” added Reid when a reporter asked him if cuts to Social Security were also on the table.

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In a March interview on 

MSNBC, Reid ruled out changes to the popular entitlement program, saying, “Leave Social Security alone.” 

Reid said at the time, “Two decades from now, I’m willing to take a look at it. But I’m not willing to take a look at it right now.”

Other Democrats on Capitol Hill, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), have said they do not support changes to Social Security as a means of paying down the debt.

The White House stunned and infuriated many Democrats last week when administration officials told news outlets that President Obama is willing to put Social Security on the table.

Reid on Tuesday painted a gloomy picture of the prospect of reforms to the entitlement programs, suggesting that congressional leadership and the White House are still far from completing any such “grand bargain.”

“There is no need to start talking about a grand bargain because that’s been trashed by Cantor and Kyl,” Reid said, referring to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

This story was posted at 4:37 p.m. and updated at 7:38 p.m.