Atrios has the correct response to Kevin Drum's rather odd claim that Social Security could somehow be "taken off the table" by instituting some benefit cuts and tax hikes: thinking that Social Security could ever be "reformed" to Fred Hiatt's long-term satisfaction will work out about as well as it did under the Reagan administration. (You'll remember that regressive tax increases designed to "stabilize" Social Security funding ended up being used to justify future regressive tax cuts, and the same people who supported this scam then claimed we needed more "reform" anyway.)
A couple more points:
- I'm also not sure why it would be desirable to have Social Security "taken off the table" even if it were somehow possible, since having it as a live issue obviously helps Democrats, as Bush's failed attempt at privatization proved. The Pain Caucus and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page represent public opinion on this issue even less that they usually do.
- I forgot to mention this earlier in the week, but I was amused by Ross Douthat's example of an "innovative" policy proposal from a Republican intellectual: "a payroll tax cut." Leaving aside the comic value of thinking there's anything innovative about Republicans advocating tax cuts as a solution to everything, in isolation the proposal isn't entirely unattractive: a payroll tax cut would, on its face, be both stimulative and progressive. The problem, of course, is that regressive payroll taxes are acceptable because they fund progressive Social Security benefits, while cutting payroll taxes would be a long term-political disaster. If you think there's a lot of complaining about Social Security when payroll taxes are substantially overfunding payouts, wait until the program's fake "bankruptcy" is imminent rather than hypothetical decades away. The idea is to force Congress to make bad and politically destructive "reforms" by denying Social Security its dedicated funding. I think I'll pass ...
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