Lower the rate.
Remove the cap.
SS is not a retirement program. It is a safety net.
SS was conceived during the Great Depression as a means to insure that Grandma wouldn't end her life in the street or in a dismal bed in an institution. She could be 48 years old and her children or grandchildren could no longer care for her because over a third of them were out of work. It was right, and noble, for all to contribute so that these relative few could live out their last few years in dignity.
Now, lives last longer. Women are much more likely to have worked during their lives and to have contributed to SS. The chasm between rich and poor is ever widening, with a sharp dividing line between those who can retire comfortably at 59 1/2, 65, or 70, and those who can't. The sky isn't falling today on SS, but clouds are gathering.
We must return SS to a state where it can continue to run in perpetual motion as machine that sustains us as we grow old, fueled by a little contribution from each of us.
That contribution can be small, much smaller than it is today, in fact, if we remove the cap, allowing those most-able to contribute give a small percentage of their taxable income. This might allow us to eliminate the contribution by employers entirely, and to decrease the contribution by us, the employed, to perhaps 5%.
Means test? Of course. John McCain receives a SS check each month equal to that of many, many soldiers, sailors, and marines who served just as admirably but did not marry into fabulous wealth. He receives this fairly and legally under the current system, but would not notice if this check didn't arrive. Similar money pooled for others who do not need it for survival can make the difference between destitution and prosperity for many on Social Security.
This could be done tomorrow, or on January 21, 2009 by a clear-thinking President.