Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Missing the point even more

I wonder if Brad even recognizes how ridiculous he seems when arguing that Democrats have anything approaching an idea, never mind consensus, on social security reform. This is his characterizaton of the Democrat position:
1. Social Security should be preserved--not phased out, as the Bush plan's "price indexation" formula does.
2. Social Security's long-run funding hole should not be closed by benefit cuts alone, but by a mixture of steps that reduce costs and increase revenues.
3. Private accounts to make it easier for America's non-rich to build their retirement savings are a wonderful idea if properly implemented and if proposed as an add on to rather than a carve out from Social Security.
Firstly, Brad argues that the program should both be preserved and that it should be funded through some benefits cuts and tax increases. While I understand how tax increases preserve the program (at the cost of the broader economy) I don't understand how benefits cuts "preserve" anything. If we cut benefits by 99% is the program "preserved"? If we cut benefits by raising the retirement age, is it "preserved"? If we means test, is it "preserved"?

The issue of how to cut benefits and "preserve" the program seems central to the whole debate, but the Democrat position on where that line should be drawn does not exist. Bush is unclear on this himself, but to date he seems to suggest that he would cut benefits by the amount you re-direct to private accounts, which seems OK to me.

Brad's argument on "private accounts, if done right, as an addition, are fine" is OK, but what does "done right" mean? From Republicans, I hear it would be based on what government employees have now. From Democrats I hear... deafining silence.

I beleive that Democrat obstructionism is more a feature of them being currently out of power than the idea that "the Left is out of ideas". I think, given the intensity of emotion against Bush on the Left (as Brad himself demonstrates a few lines down), it's easier and more pleasant for them to chant "not in my name" than actually come up with real alternatives. Given Brad's description of the Democrat position, it does not seem like they actually know what an "alternative" looks like any more. This is unfortunate.


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