The new social security study panel has a promising mix: a partisan of the elderly such as Democratic Rep. Claude Pepper, for example, and a developer of financing reforms such as Republican Rep. Barber Conable. To name only two of the 15 chosen by President Reagan and congressional party leaders. They are charged with the vital task of devising long-term solutions for a social security system whose future solvency is clouded.

But, with all the scrutiny already bestowed on the matter, do they really need longer than the spring date once suggested for their report? Calling for it at the end of next year - after the fall elections - may appear to take politicians off the hook. But eventually they will - or ought to - lose more points for avoiding the problem than addressing it with the urgency it deserves.

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