The Washington Post editors, along with most of its columnists, have long advocated cutting and/or privatizing Social Security. Unfortunately, this position infects their news reporting as well, as illustrated with a front page story discussiong the alternative minimum tax. The article lists a set of "ticking time bombs set to explode soon after the 2008 presidential election." Yes, this list includes Social Security.
The New York Times continues its crusade to cut and/or privatize Social Security by again referring to efforts to restore the long-term solvency of the program. Since the program already has long-term solvency (through the year 2046, according to the Congressional Budget Office), this is a phony problem.
Of course it's fine that people want to restructure the program, but it is simply not true that there is any need to do so over any reasonable time horizon. It would be nice if the Times reporters could be a bit more honest in their discussion of the topic.
I have been told by people who know such things that the Dems are looking at ways to allow Medicare to negotiate prices with the drug industry, without offering its own plan, that actually would be meaningful. For example, it could negotiate a set of prices that would apply to all the insurance plans included under Part D. This seems unduly complex, but it could lead to lower drug prices.
VETERANS' DAY. Though Laura weighs in below, Tapped is more or less down today in honor of the holiday. But for your TAP Online reading pleasure: Rick Perlstein offers an urgent reminder to Democrats not to let victory lull them into forgetting the dirty tricks operation that the GOP perpetrated on Tuesday -- and will do again in future elections.
One of the items on the Democrats' "100 hours" agenda is reforming the Medicare prescription drug bill. The bill passed by the Republican Congress prohibited Medicare from offering its own plan. This denied seniors the benefits of Medicare's lower administrative costs (@ $5 billion annually, or $200 per enrollee, according to CBO) and it means that drugs cost almost twice as much as if Medicare bargained directly with the industry and secured the same prices as the Veterans Administration or the Canadian government. The Republicans also added a seemingly gratuitous clause that explicitly prohibited Medicare from negotiating prices with the industry.
In a short piece on the Democrats' top agenda items, one of their reporters discussed their plan to raise the minimum wage. In noting the objections of small businesses, he said that they are worried that a higher minimum wage would raise costs and force them to lay off workers.
Well, maybe they are concerned about having to lay off workers (a large body of economic research shows little or no employment impact from modest increases in the minimum wage), but it is reasonable to believe that they are also concerned about the prospect of lower profits. Is it too radical on National Public Radio to say that small business owners care about profit?
A FEW GOOD INTERNS. The Prospect is looking for interns for Winter/Spring 2007. Any Tapped readers out there who are interested in (or who know someone who might be interested in) spending a semester in our DC office, helping out with the magazine and the site, should definitely apply. It's a fun time, and a rewarding experience in every sense of the word except the one that means getting paid money. Check it out.
GUESS WHO�S BACK? So with President Bush begging for a new spirit of bi-partisanship in Washington, he re-nominates the next-most-divisive administration official after Rumsfeld: the recess-appointed ambassador to the UN John Bolton. One has to wonder what the president is thinking -- or what tricks he has up his sleeve.