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More clear-headed thinking on Social Security

Charles Krauthammer takes the president to task for emphasizing the year 2042 as Social Security's Day of Reckoning. His problem with this is twofold. First, this date is essentially meaningless, representing an estimate as to when a fictitious trust fund will run out of fictitious money. Second, the date sounds so impossibly distant that it will be difficult to rally the citizens to avert a crisis many of them will not live to see, particularly if that remedy involves sacrifice on their part.

The real Day or Reckoning, Krauthammer argues, comes much sooner, in 2018. That is the year that the Social Security surpluses are predicted to dry up and become deficits. The difference will have to be made up somewhere -- reduced benefits, higher taxes, increased deficit.

Private accounts, however attractive they may be, are not going to solve this problem in and of themselves, and he argues that Bush should not sell them as a cure-all. He also takes the Democrats to task, however, for their head-in-the-sand denial that a real problem exists.

While Krauthammer doesn't pretend to have all the answers, he does have a refreshingly candid and straightforward approach to facing current realities, and to framing the questions we should be asking. I wish this were more typical of the present debate than the partisan hyperbole we're getting from both sides.