Instead, many made demagogic speeches about Republican benefit cuts, as if it is possible to fix the system without benefit cuts. Many ginned up the familiar scare tactics designed to frighten the elderly.
Isn't there an editor of some sort working at the New York Times? Because this quote isn't a subjective opinion or an ideological argument, it's a plain lie. Even if Social Security's problems were orders of magnitude larger than they are, even if the Trustees' most pessimistic projections materialized and the Baby Boom proved even larger than we feared, we could, if we wanted, divert defense-spending and raise taxes. We could cut other programs and sell bonds. We could do all sorts of things that, while painful, would never ever require a reduction in benefits. And, as the situation actually is, the fiscal issues are minor and all we need is something simple and, for most Americans, painless, like rolling back Bush's top-bracket tax cuts or raising the payroll cap. We do one of those things and Social Security is totally, entirely, fixed, no benefit cuts needed.
Y'know, I'm not even sure what to say about this. Brooks is just breathtakingly duplicitous here. Having spent the column doing his reasonable guy schtick ("In this case, both parties are wrong: Republicans should pet puppies more than they do and Democrats should stop throwing them out of moving cars just to watch them die"), he delivers, as an offhand recognition of a reality neither party is honest enough to face, a factually indefensible claim. In most lines of work, you'd get fired for such blatant dishonesty. With Brooks, it's become his M.O. His columns, at least the ones that aren't totally inane, end with a completely incorrect, highly partisan assertion that he makes believable by presenting it as a criticism of both parties but which, in reality, is a critical part of the Republican argument. So Brooks legitimizes the right's case by presenting it as a rejection of both parties. Very effective, but how does he sleep at night?