Explain please exactly why we need to "protect current retirees and those near retirement." Not a nick applied or a nickel deducted. Every once in a while a baffling stipulation gets out there, and stays out there, never questioned, never challenged. This is one of them.
Ever since people started worrying about the solvency of retirement benefit programs, and we've been worrying about it forever, solutions always had to come at the expense of FUTURE retirees. The question of fairness or equity is not allowed. Yes, I know all about the Political Realities of this issue that seem to revolve around the idea that seniors do only two or three things, cribbage, shuffleboard, voting. Okay, fine, but do we have to humor them so abjectly in debate about this? The reasons given for protecting current beneficiaries are as thin as the retiree’s body hair. They go something like, Oh, they made PLANS! I'm sorry, but everybody makes "plans" and guess what. "Plans change." Students make :plans to get an education and then get a job that will pay off their student loans in a reasonable amount of time, but then the economy collapses on them and the jobs go away but their debts sticks around. Plans change. They may also plan to contribute into these programs and expect to get some decent payback out of them when THEY retire. Hey man, don't plan on THAT!
The fact is that current retirees have gotten the deal of a lifetime out of these programs as the first two or three layers in on any vaguely pyramidal scheme make out very well indeed. They pay in peanuts and reap the revenue stream of the follow-ons. Why, they PLANNED it that way! Good planning! And now for the rest of the younger citizens of this great land? Well they are left with a choice. They can either "reform” their plans now and build in reduced benefits, or they can postpone dealing with it and when they retire, well, the programs will be short of money and they'll get reduced benefits! Tails you lose or tails you lose! Plan on it!