This is a Democratic Adviser?Posted: November 15, 2010 | |
I have to admit to being with Digby on this one. It’s getting more obvious to me that this Democratic Administration is going after our Social Security benefits with gusto. You may recall that Peter Orzag was the Obama Budget Director and is now one of the major economic advisers to the President. This contribution to the NYT is not the first flare to be fired, but it is a distinctly blinding one.
So, first Orzag admits that Social Security is not a federal deficit problem. You would think he’d end with that. Social Security is an off budget program and it’s self funding and managing. That’s the deal. People pay for the benefits and they expect them. It’s a third rail of politics and you’d think after Dubya’s adventures into handing the trust fund to Wall Street that would be all she wrote. But, it’s not. (Emphasis is mine on this.)
So it would be desirable to put the system on sounder financial footing. And that is precisely what the co-chairmen of President Obama’s bipartisan commission on reducing the national debt have bravely proposed to do. It’s too bad their proposal has been greeted with so much criticism, especially from progressives — who really should look at it as an opportunity to fix Social Security without privatizing it. Although the plan leans too much on future benefit reductions and not enough on revenue increases, it still offers a good starting point for reform.
The main flaw in the proposed Social Security plan is that it relies too little on revenue increases and too much on future benefit reductions. A reasonable objective would be a 50-50 balance between changes in benefits and changes in revenues. But the way to bring reform into better proportion is to adjust the components of this proposal, not to fundamentally remodel it.
Alrighty, so let’s first IGNORE the fact that the cat food commission had no real business sticking its nose into Social Security because it’s charter said it was to go after the Federal Deficit. And, as Orzag has stated, Social Security is NO contributor to that deficit.
So, here’s where I agree with Digby.
I can hardly believe anyone of his stature could argue this nonsense. Orszag agrees that SS does not contribute to the long term deficit and yet is trying to convince us that that the Deficit Commission draft just put it on the table anyway, apparently out of a surfeit of progressive idealism. Huh? Moreover, he also thinks it makes sense to jump right on the third rail in American politics because it would be desirable” to do something about a potential future problem — when we are in the middle of an epic economic shitstorm with stubborn 10% unemployment and a banking and housing crisis that shows no sign of abating.
Is he ignorant of the fact that most people in this country are convinced — mainly because they’re being told it every single day by every politician, talking head and gasbag — that “entitlements” are destroying the economy and the future of the United States? The idea that social security cuts could buy the administration a chance for more stimulus is delusional.
The White House has been handed a highly progressive reform plan for Social Security that could attract Republican support as well.
If this is progressive, I want to be known as something completely different.
This just seems to be the start of the swansong for the program. BostonBoomer sent me this call for liberals to get on board with similar clarion calls today. It’s from USN and John Farrell.
Okay, my liberal friends. On Friday I explained why the proposals of the Simpson-Bowles commission should be welcomed, and put on the bargaining table by conservatives. Today I will argue, despite what Paul Krugman says, that there’s good stuff for liberals too.
Remember, first and foremost, that this is a starting point. You don’t have to buy into everything to keep the conversation going. And beware misinformation.
You know, this all seems to assume that we don’t have Democratic pols that make Faustian bargains with themselves before they even start dealing with the Republicans. I have to admit that I’m with Krugman on this one too.
Right at the beginning of his administration, what Mr. Obama needed to do, above all, was fight for an economic plan commensurate with the scale of the crisis. Instead, he negotiated with himself before he ever got around to negotiating with Congress, proposing a plan that was clearly, grossly inadequate — then allowed that plan to be scaled back even further without protest. And the failure to act forcefully on the economy, more than anything else, accounts for the midterm “shellacking.”
You expect any one to fight for what’s right in Social Security given recent history like Krugman identifies? I don’t. No hope or expectation of it at all. After all, a major Presidential Advisor just call Allan Simpson brave instead of being labeled the crazy old coot he is.