The effort to partially privatize Social Security fell on deaf ears years ago when it was pushed by President George W. Bush.
Anger emanated from all corners from supporters of one of the country's most popular programs.
A recent meeting by the S.C. Alliance for Retired Americans at the recreation center at the former air base in Myrtle Beach proves the program would be hard to change, even given the rising local, state and national talk about the need to make difficult choices amid tough economic times.
Bob Kearney, deputy director of field mobilization for the Alliance for Retired Americans, asked everyone who wanted Social Security "to go away or be messed with" to raise their hands. No hands.
"There are some folks who would love to get their hands on that money," Kearney said.
He said Social Security is projected to be solvent for another 29 years, while paying out full benefits.
He reminded the audience that half of senior citizens lived in poverty before Social Security was enacted, compared to less than 10 percent today.
More than 6 million kids who lost a parent and millions of workers who were hurt while working also rely upon the program.
A full one-third of seniors rely upon Social Security as their lone source of income, with another third using it as the bulk of their income, he said.
Other well-discussed options of strengthening Social Security beyond the next 29 years, such as raising the retirement age, are nonstarters, he said.
The one change his group may endorse? An increase in the $106,800 income cap for Social Security taxes. An individual's income higher than that figure is not subject to Social Security taxes. Kearney speculated that maybe it could be increased to $250,000, which would make Social Security coffers more flush and short-circuit talk of other modifications.
Seniors worked for decades to fund Social Security, he said. It is an earned entitlement.
Kearney said seniors from across the economic and political spectrum will unite in defense of Social Security.
It is the perfect illustration of the difficulties facing us. We all speak about the urgency to change the fiscal direction of the country while arguing that the things we value most shouldn't be subject to change.
I don't envy our leaders. Enact tough reforms and get labeled cold-hearted. Kick them down the road for future generations and be labeled irresponsible.
It is during times such as these the term leadership is tested - and best defined.