Third Way's Social Security reform proposal  deserves to be judged on its merits. But the outright lies its leaders are spreading about the position of progressive groups on Social Security do not. Plugging their reform proposal in Politico , Third Way's Jim Kessler and David Kendall claim that progressives are denying that Social Security has any problem at all. This is patently false. There is not one progressive group that denies Social Security will face a modest shortfall in 26 years. In fact, thus far, at least four progressive figures or groups have put forward their plans for filling this shortfall. They include reports issued by: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) ; former SEIU head, Andy Stern ; Demos, EPI and the Century Foundation's initiative "Our Fiscal Security ;" and the Campaign for America's Future's "Citizens' Commission on Jobs, Deficits and America's Economic Future ."
Joining the Beltway chorus to denounce progressives as "Social Security denialists,"  Kessler and Kendall go so far as to say that progressive groups preemptively opposing the suggestion of benefit cuts in Obama's State of the Union address are not "progressive":
Last week, 200 progressive organizations launched a public campaign directed toward President Barack Obama that argues against any fix to Social Security that would touch future benefits. This is not only bad for Social Security; it’s not particularly progressive.
According to its trustees, the Social Security Trust Fund is due to be insolvent in 26 years — the blink of an eye on an actuarial table. At that point, benefits will be reduced by nearly one-third for current and future retirees. But these facts haven’t stopped many on the left from denying the problem exists or insisting that it can be solved by significantly raising payroll taxes.
Setting aside for a moment the latter, more subjective argument as to whether it is responsible to insist that no plan include "benefit cuts" (hint: it is), let the record show that progressive groups do not deny the existence of a problem, albeit a very minor one.
Recognition of the modest funding shortfall and the need to close it is featured prominently among the founding principles of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign , which, representing more than 215 labor, progressive, women's, disabled persons', minority and seniors', groups with over 50 million members, is the largest progressive coalition opposing Social Security cuts. The Campaign's fourth principle  is:
Congress should act in the coming few years to close Social Security’s funding gap by requiring those who are most able to afford it to pay somewhat more.
We can have an earnest debate with Third Way about the advantages and disadvantages of a Social Security reform proposal that includes benefit cuts (let alone doing so in advance of negotiations with a resurgent GOP). But, as usual, Third Way and its fellow travelers would rather smear progressives as quacks, who do not accept basic mathematical calculations. No doubt knowing they would lose a fair policy debate, Third Way has taken to kneecapping those who deviate from its Republican-lite line. And that is not "particularly progressive."