New York (CNNMoney.com) - Reforming Social Security is still a hot-button issue. But relative to other measures needed to stabilize U.S. debt, it should be a snap.
"They could begin with Social Security, which oddly enough has gone from being the 'third rail of American politics' to the low-hanging fruit," wrote Robert Bixby, director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan, grassroots deficit watchdog group.
While a Social Security fix would cure only a small part of the country's long-term fiscal shortfall, it could pay big dividends in terms of the U.S. standing internationally, deficit hawks say. "It would be a confidence builder with our foreign lenders," said Pete Peterson at a recent fiscal summit organized by his foundation, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
That could lessen the risk of a big rise in interest rates and buy the country more time to handle other debt-related issues, such tax and budget reform and further changes in Medicare.
A report from the Congressional Budget Office in March estimated that starting this year, Social Security will for the first time take in less revenue than it must pay out in benefits.