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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Washington Post has a dumb editorial
Megaditto Brad DeLong and commenters especially Kharris.

The Post
We've been finding ourselves with a similarly exasperated reaction to the folks who have been arguing that Social Security represents a minor, easily solved piece of the long-term budget problem: "If it's so easy, why don't you fix it?"

OK let's fix it by eliminating the ceiling on FICA. That would eliminate the social security shortfall for at least 75 years even according to the pessimistic forecasts of the SSA trustees. The elimination has the support of most Americans in poll after poll. Most Americans reject all other options including benefit cuts, general FICA increases and raising the retirement age. It is a no brainer. Rarely have politicians received such clear, reality based and feasible instructions from the public. It won't happen because it goes against Republican ideology and the interests of their campaign contributors. The Post editorial board must know all this. They pretend otherwise writing

Sadly, the Social Security debate so far has served chiefly to underline the difficulty, in a political environment dominated by dogma and short-term self-interest. For the most part, Republicans won't consider any Social Security reform that lacks personal accounts -- or any that includes tax increases. On their side, Democrats won't talk unless personal accounts are off-limits -- and they dare not indicate any willingness to accept cuts in benefits. This is irresponsible, on both sides.

Since personal accounts would add 1.1 trillion to the shortfall, taking them off the table is a first step towards a solution. Here, as in the case of the general budget, just saying no to the Republicans is a way to address the problems which they seem determined to worsen. Not just Democrats but most Americans reject cuts in benefits. There are various ways to address the social security and general revenue shortfalls. The rejection of one approach is not necessarily irresponsible if one is willing to accept another feasible approach as more than one are.

Like pundit's generally, and curiously consistently with their personal interests, the editorial board seems to think benefits should be cut as a matter of policy. This is often asserted but never argued. The extreme stinginess of planned benefits make it very difficult to ague that they are extravegant.

In this editorial however, their case that benefits should be cut, is that no compromise with the Republicans will be possible wihout benefit cuts. Nor will a compromise with benefit cuts be feasible, since the Republicans only addressed the issue, because they hoped to lure the voters with promises of easy riches and because they want to phase out social security. In any case, any party would be crazy to seek an unpopular compromise with their adversaries instead of asking the people to give them power to implement a very popular proposal. That's would not be bipartisanship, that would be undermining democratic choice from pure masochistic stupidity.

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