By Michael O’Brien - 03/16/11 10:24 PM EDT
The Senate's top Democrat said he's open to changing Social Security — 20 years from now.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) emphatically rejected changes to Social Security that would improve the entitlement program's solvency, jesting that he'd be willing to revisit the program's structure in two decades, once it's projected to become insolvent.
Reid's remarks may well signal a death knell for hopes that lawmakers might be able to accomplish Social Security reform this Congress.
Republicans in the House are expected to include reforms in their budget next month, and some centrist Democrats in the Senate have joined with Republicans in a working group examining long-term fiscal issues.
Those lawmakers have said that changes to the program such as raising the retirement age, removing the cap on taxable income under the payroll tax, or changing the way benefits are indexed to inflation should be on the table.
Reid rejected all of those.
"So what I've said, if we want to look at something to take care of the out years, let's do it at the right time," he said. "It is not in crisis at this stage. Leave Social Security alone. We have a lot of other places we can look that is in crisis. But Social Security is not."