Lessons in Entitlement Reform

How Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich Almost Saved Social Security

On October 28th, 1997, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton held a secret meeting where they reached a groundbreaking deal to create a centrist political coalition to reform Social Security and Medicare. Although the Lewinsky scandal ultimately undermined their agreement, the efforts of these men, and others in Congress, might serve as a model for members of both parties interested in addressing the long-term shortfalls in the nation's entitlement programs.
Steven Gillon discussed the details of how this secret agreement came to be, as first revealed in his new book, The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation. Gillon was joined by Charles Blahous and Ed Lorenzen, who were involved in bipartisan reform efforts during Clinton's presidency, working on opposite sides of the aisle. The panelists discussed what can be learned from the reform efforts of the 1990s, and address the question of whether, and in what political environment, entitlement reform is possible.
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Featured Speakers
  • Steven Gillon
    Resident Historian, The History Channel
    Professor of History, University of Oklahoma
    Author, The Pact
  • Charles Blahous
    Deputy Director, White House National Economic Council
    Author, Reforming Social Security: For Ourselves and Our Posterity
  • Ed Lorenzen
    Senior Policy Advisor
    Office of Congressman Steny Hoyer

Marc Goldwein
Policy Analyst
New America Foundation