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Originally published Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 7:52 AM

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Top Senate Democrat proposes Social Security panel

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat said Wednesday that he's preparing a plan to create a commission to study Social Security's fiscal problems and send a proposed solution to Congress for guaranteed votes in both House and Senate.

Associated Press

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WASHINGTON —

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat said Wednesday that he's preparing a plan to create a commission to study Social Security's fiscal problems and send a proposed solution to Congress for guaranteed votes in both House and Senate.

Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin says he's got bipartisan backing for the idea, which is patterned after President Barack Obama's 2010 deficit commission.

Social Security currently is spending more than it takes in in payroll taxes and relies on savings from previous surpluses to pay benefits. Those savings are estimated to run out in 20 years.

Durbin wants the commission to make recommendations to make Social Security solvent for 75 years. The panel would be expected to consider increases in the payroll tax, a higher retirement age and a lower annual cost-of-living adjustment for beneficiaries.

"You would basically say to a commission, within a very limited time frame, to come up with a proposal for 75-year solvency of Social Security and then - and this is important - it would be referred to both chambers on an expedited procedure," Durbin told reporters at a Washington breakfast sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.

"I'd like to get it done. I've proposed that to a number of people and they've been receptive to it on both sides of the aisle. I think we can move forward with it," Durbin added.

The commission would resemble the 2010 deficit panel chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and retired Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo. That panel failed to produce the supermajority vote required to officially present a plan to Congress but has attracted praise from deficit hawks for its sweeping recommendations.

Durbin's proposed 18-member commission would contain an equal number of Republicans and Democrats but require 14 votes to send a plan to Congress.

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