Bowles, who was White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration, said the plan wouldn't eliminate Social Security benefits. But changes are necessary to make the program sustainable.
“We're not trying to balance the budget on Granny's back,” Bowles said.
Social Security represents one of the five major challenges that stands in the way of fiscal solvency, Bowles said, with the others being health care, military spending, an ineffective tax code and the interest paid on debt.
Military spending presents a particular problem, he said. The United States bears a disproportionate responsibility for world peace, he said, and the nation spends more on national defense than the 27 next largest nations combined.
“I don't think we can afford to be the world's policeman,” Bowles said.
OU President David Boren said he is optimistic about Americans' willingness to make sacrifices.
“We're patriotic Americans,” he said. “We're ready to make sacrifices as long as we're in the same boat together.”