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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not What Digby Said

Digby wrote of Barack Obama "Running to the right on ... social security"


I comment.

I absolutely have no idea why you claim that Obama is "running to the right on social security". His proposal is to eliminate the payroll tax ceiling, that is to increase taxes on people who earn over (roughly) $100,000, that is, the top 6% of wage and salary earners. I never knew that proposing an increase in taxes of people at the upper end of the income distribution was running to the right.

The left blogosphere has become totally rigid [on this issue]*. Having argued that there is no social security funding crisis (Obama never said there is by the way) they find any proposal having anything to do with social security fudning to be right wing. Of course only conservatives don't absolutely oppose change on principle.

I ask Digby (and Atrios and Krugman and lots of others) "what did Obama say about social security which you think is false ?" (not overemphasized compared to health care costs or the general fund deficit but false as in not true) and "What is wrong with his policy proposal ?" (you know the policy reform he proposed not disagreeing with you on emphasis in description of predictions of future reality but what he proposed). Oh and, especially, "What is right wing about raising the FICA ceiling ?"

*added here

update: Mark Kleiman put it better than I did (big surprise huh). Also he didn't name nicknames

What Obama offers them, simply, is respect, and the only "trick" is his knack for making that respect seem genuine. Maybe I'm being fooled along with everyone else, but I think it probably is genuine: Obama seems to me to have both the philosophical humility and the Christian charity that allows him to encounter difference without feeling animus.

As to Matt's first puzzle — why this transparent trick, which disarms opposition without sacrificing principle, should be offensive to some progressives — the obvious answer is that some people, n both sides of the aisle would rather triumph over their enemies than achieve their policy goals.

Now I was talking about social security not health care. Obama's health care plan is vulnerable to free riding. I would make it more tempting for the young and healthy to go without insurance until they are sick, since it would require insurance companies to insure the sick for standard premiums and cover pre-existing conditions. Obama announced his plan when he was trying to be to the right of Edwards and to the left of Clinton. Clinton outflanked him to the left and now he is arguing against mandates for purely personal political advantage.

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