In your column today you assert that Democrats "just said no" (echoing an orchestrated G.O.P. canard) to Republican "offers" of a big payroll tax increase for the upper class and upper-middle class, and progressively indexing benefits to protect the poor and working class from benefit cuts. Your claim lacks substance. These "proposals" were nothing more than trial balloons, to which no response was required or even suggested, and I saw nothing in any news media reporting any specific negative responses attributed to congressional Democrats. If you seriously maintain the truth of this claim, you should back it up with specifics.
On another point, it has been repeatedly pointed out by your colleague Mr. Krugman, among many others, that the problems of funding Medicare and Medicaid so dwarf the problems with Social Security that the President's emphasis on the alleged "crisis" in Social Security comes off as disingenuous, at best. The Congress has long refused to deal with the elephant in the living room, namely the huge problem of financing health care in general and the millions of uninsured. Other countries have faced up to these responsibilities successfully, but our politics is so wedded to special interests in the health care industry that this one sector of the economy threatens to virtually bankrupt the treasury if the larger issue isn't dealt with. The problems of social security pale in comparison.
It has also been frequently mentioned that the President's tax cuts are undeniably far more detrimental to the fiscal health of the nation than either of these entitlement funding "crises," but this issue appears to be off the table for those on the right. As an example, the hypocritical shilling for the Administration done by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has recently been cast into high relief for anyone willing to look at it honestly.
I think you're right that Social Security "reform" is dead for the moment, but I think your refusal to look at it in the light of the big picture of the fiscal irresponsibility of the Republicans in Washington does a disservice to your readers.
14 March 2005
Please see these comments by Paul Craig Roberts, an old-fashioned conservative and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. Roberts, without using these terms, illustrates the difference between old-style conservatism and the near-fascism of the current administration.
Posted Monday, March 14, 2005