Monday, March 28, 2005


Stop The Presses!

Thomas E. Mann from The New Republic was caught talking sense (almost):

What is a responsible opposition party to do in reaction to President Bush's campaign to reform Social Security? Sober commentators with moderate political views and a preference for civil talk across party lines have, in recent weeks, given a clear answer: Democrats should acknowledge that the solvency problem is real; offer a genuine alternative to the Bush policy; entertain the "sweetner" of personal accounts in order to achieve progressive benefit cuts; and, in the words of one Washington Post editorial-page writer, stop "braying over what must be left on the table or taken off." That is, Democrats shouldn't let the disconnect between Bush's call to save Social Security and his embrace of personal accounts stand in the way of good-faith bargaining that could ultimately assure the system's solvency. All of which sounds eminently reasonably—and is, if you understand game theory, exactly wrong.
Screw game theory -- this is plain old common sense. As Digby has stated over and over again, but which the Lieberman wing of the Democratic party, so eager to get their faces on FOX News, just doesn't seem to understand: The Republicans have always wanted to destroy Social Security. Period. They're using the term "private accounts" to describe their plans for the same reason that the creationists now are calling their worldview "intelligent design": to fool the public as to their true motivations. The thing is that Mann, true to his TNR roots, only half-gets it. The only way that you can believe that Social Security is in crisis is if you believe the new, hyper-pessimistic figures released by the Social Security trustees (of which Bush buddy and Bush SecTreas John Snow is one), that state that economic growth over the next seventy-five years will be less than half what it was over the last seventy-five years. (Remember, the last seventy-five years include the Great Depression.) So to believe the trustees, you have to believe that America is going to be plunged into a deep depression for the next seventy-five years. If that happens, Social Security will be the least of our worries. Trust me on this.

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