Mike the Mad Biologist

I think there’s a related disorder to Compulsive Centrist Disorder: Magnanimous Pundit Syndrome. It seems to have hit Kevin Drum pretty hard (italics mine):

I’m on record (several hundred times, probably) saying that Social Security is basically fine and that the best thing we can do is just leave it alone and then revisit it in a decade or so. At the same time, I don’t think any of us would (or should) have any serious problem with, say, a 1983-style commission that beavered away for a year and then recommended a basket of modest tax increases and benefit reductions to keep Social Security solvent for the rest of the century. In fact, if it were enough to get Tim Russert to shut up about the whole thing, it might even be worth it.

Drum simply doesn’t get it: barring a decades-long economic collapse, Social Security will remain solvent in perpetuity. The Social Security Trustees have announced that the Social Security Trust Fund will become insolvent in 34 years every year for the last fourteen years. Why? Because they use very pessimistic economic assumptions.

So yes, I do have a “serious problem with, say, a 1983-style commission that beavered away for a year and then recommended a basket of modest tax increases and benefit reductions to keep Social Security solvent for the rest of the century” because it is not necessary, oh Mighty Magnanimous Pundit-ji.

All Drum is doing is opening the door for conservatives who ‘come to destroy Social Security, not save it.’ As Krugman said about Senator Obama (italics mine):

Well, in large part it’s the result of decades of scare-mongering about Social Security’s future from conservative ideologues, whose ultimate goal is to undermine the program.

Thus, in 2005, the Bush administration tried to push through a combination of privatization and benefit cuts that would, over time, have reduced Social Security to nothing but a giant 401(k). The administration claimed that this was necessary to save the program, which officials insisted was “heading toward an iceberg.”

But the administration’s real motives were, in fact, ideological. The anti-tax activist Stephen Moore gave the game away when he described Social Security as “the soft underbelly of the welfare state,” and hailed the Bush plan as a way to put a “spear” through that soft underbelly.

…He [Obama] is, however, someone who keeps insisting that he can transcend the partisanship of our times — and in this case, that turned him into a sucker

.

And Matt Stoller put it more bitterly:

The DC Villagers want to just do bad things to Social Security, and they gin up crisis and solvency lingo to justify it. It’s actually what they are very good at in general, ginning up crisis rhetoric to justify things they want to do anyway.

Now, what I’m saying is obvious to anyone who has followed the creationist movement: what they say is not what they believe. They are not interested in intellectual inquiry, despite claims of only wanting to ‘teach the controversy.’ The anti-Social Security conservatives and their traditional media useful idiots could care less about the vitality of the most successful anti-poverty program in U.S. history–in fact, many of them are either willing to throw destroy it in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility’ (even though there are many other ways to solve our budgetary problems), or flat-out want to kill Social Security.

All Drum’s proposal would establish a commission that, guess what, would be used to support the false idea that there is a Social Security crisis. It’s the sucker’s play.

How can Drum not understand this?

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin Drum
    November 21, 2007

    You haven’t been reading me for very long, have you? Here’s an op-ed I wrote way back in 2004:

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-oe-drum29dec2904,0,6025755.story

    Believe me, I understand.