Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 5, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

DEMOCRATS AND SOCIAL SECURITY....This is just annoying. Nick Kristof thinks liberals are wrong for obstructing George Bush's Social Security plan even though he agrees it's irresponsible. Here are his ideas:

But what if we paid for Social Security reform by keeping the inheritance tax? Or by undoing Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Rescuing Social Security strikes me as a good use for that money while paying for it with debt would not secure our children's future, but mortgage it.

Seriously, what planet is he writing from? Everyone with a pulse knows perfectly well that neither of these proposals has even the slightest chance of being considered by anyone in today's Republican party. They are complete nonstarters.

What's more, I can point Kristof to dozens of Social Security rescue plans from earnest liberals. Hell, George Bush even mentioned a bunch of them in his State of the Union address. They come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from quick and dirty (like mine here) to hundred page white papers from professional economists at respected think tanks (like this one here). Take your pick.

The real problem, as Kristof himself acknowledges, is not that Democrats have no proposals, it's that Republicans are in charge and their proposals are wildly irresponsible. They agree that private accounts don't help Social Security's solvency but they want them anyway. They agree that the system needs more money but they refuse to even consider a tax increase. They want private accounts, big benefit cuts, and massive borrowing to finance the transition costs, and that's that. Those are their nonnegotiable demands.

Kristof knows perfectly well that Democrats have plenty of modest, sensible, nondramatic plans that would eliminate Social Security's future problems. Republicans, however, have no interest in hearing about them. That's what Kristof ought to be exercised about.

UPDATE: Jonathan Schwarz weighs in with a fair and balanced critique of Kristof here. To get the joke, though, you should read this first.

Kevin Drum 12:42 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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