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If You’re Going to Attack Social Security, Be Honest About It

What’s the evidence for the belief that fiscal contraction is actually expansionary, because it improves confidence? (By the way, this is precisely the doctrine expounded by Herbert Hoover in 1932.) Well, there have been historical cases of spending cuts and tax increases followed by economic growth. But as far as I can tell, every one of those examples proves, on closer examination, to be a case in which the negative effects of austerity were offset by other factors, factors not likely to be relevant today. For example, Ireland’s era of austerity-with-growth in the 1980s depended on a drastic move from trade deficit to trade surplus, which isn’t a strategy everyone can pursue at the same time. – Paul Krugman

Light a sparkler. Democrats keep their promise to have a vote on recommendations from the deficit commission. They’re “serious” about the debt. Be impressed.

The rule passed by Pelosi’s House will be good until the end of the 111th Congress. Whatever Obama’s debt commission decides, the House will have to give an up or down vote on it. The set up is that Speaker Pelosi knows exactly what’s coming.

Hey, Speaker Pelosi sold women out to the Catholic church, so why should this come as any surprise? But you can bet if she’s doing it it’s because Pres. Obama wants it done.

To hear politicians whining about the debt after the Bush-Cheney years is like seeing Democrats get deficit hawk fever while they continue to bloat the Pentagon budget. If you ever had any doubt about why nobody believes in either party this is a good reason.

Alan Simpson and a former Clintonite, Erskine Bowles, who is a numerologist, are the co-chairs of the Deficit Commission, ghoulishly referred to as the “Catfood Commission”. The numerology isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, until you remember that the Democratic Party is now ruled by conservatives who think numbers are more important than people.

The talk on changing Social Security began with lifting the retirement age, which was telegraphed long ago by the “third way” crowd that includes now V.P. Joe Biden. Rep. James Clyburn, also leading the way in the House for Obama, is on board, as is Rep. Steny Hoyer.

But let’s be honest for a second instead of simply partisan or political.

Longevity is much different now than it was in the mid-20th century, let alone earlier. I know this is unpopular to even broach, but we are living much longer lives, so heightened talk about raising the retirement age on Social Security should come as no surprise to anyone.

It just shouldn’t be considered on the canard that Social Security is in trouble or that this needs to be done because of some austerity and deficit reduction plan. There should be simultaneous talk about raising the mandatory retirement age in corporations that demand retirement when a person is in his or her mid-sixties. The vibrancy of 60-something individuals today makes it absurd to force anyone into retirement before 70. That makes it more difficult for younger people moving up, but you shouldn’t be able to have it both ways, while pushing 60-something corporate executives out the door.

Means testing is another aspect that has been gaining ground for a long time as well. It’s tantamount to federal robbery to realize you’ve paid into Social Security your whole life and are now going to be denied access to your own money, but Washington has deficit fever so get ready to suck it up. There are good arguments that if you’re wealthy you shouldn’t be pulling Social Security, so just smile that you live in the U.S.A. while someone else gets your cash.

I’m not sure how any of this will go down with the larger public, though these numbers aren’t surprising, but it’s a cinch that credit will go to Pres. Obama and the Democrats, which will amount to blame in many quarters.

What Speaker Pelosi has done right before a big holiday when no one is looking is likely being forced on her by a President who believes that deficits should be reined in by what people can sacrifice, because politicians fear the power in the Pentagon more than anyone else. It’s a gift to Republicans who can sit back and watch their ideas enacted by Democrats, with more conservative votes sure to be available after November, regardless of whether Dems keep control of Congress.

I’m rather impressed with the Democratic dishonesty, for one thing, because using the deficit as an excuse while the Pentagon budget remains way too large for 21st century reality reveals priorities that no Democrat should support, though they’re doing it with such brazen aplomb.

Hey, but it does foreshadow change if it happens.

What it telegraphs about the Democratic Party under Obama is a fundamental shift away from F.D.R. We’ll see how movement progressives take it. As for seniors, they vote in droves, as do 50-something individuals. However, since Republicans would be worse, I’m not sure where anyone goes with their anger.

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