Recently we were asked to serve on the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security (CSSS) along with 14 other members drawn equally from both major political parties. The Commission's charge was to provide recommendations to modernize the Social Security system, restore its fiscal soundness, and develop a workable system of Personal Retirement Accounts. This paper explains how the Commission arrived at some of its recommendations and the role that economics played in contributing to these recommendations. We describe the key institutional constraints confronting efforts to reform Social Security and how these constraints influenced Commission decisions. We also illustrate how economics research influenced the Commission's analysis of how to structure personal accounts, ways to enhance traditional Social Security program finances, and means of measuring the extent of financial progress achieved through reform.
"Perspectives from the President's Commission on Social Security Reform ." Journal of Economic Perspectives,