Monday, November 7, 2016

It Is Monday Before Election Day And WaPo VSPs Whining About Social Security Yet Again

Robert J. Samuelson, of course, although he is only one, but I suspect backed up by the usual editorial gang at the Washington Post today.  Dean Baker has already taken him out on various aspects of his ridiculous post, but I shall pile on a bit more with some items Dean did not hit on.

So RJS posed that he was going to be above the fray and discuss two issues supposedly not discussed by the candidates during the campaign.  One was indeed old age entitlements, especially Social Security, but let me start with the other, not covered by Dean.  That is immigration reform.

Well, on the face of it, Samuelson's claim that they did not discuss it is just totally bogus.  It has been one of the most discussed of all issues by Donald Trump from the day he announced when he denounced Mexican immigrants as "rapists."  His promising to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it has been one of the most common memes of his entire campaign to the point that the Mexican peso moves up and down against movements in Trump's poll numbers. It is one of the few issues where he has had a more or less consistent position, despite some occasional zigs and zags.  He hates immigrants, especially illegal ones, but pretty much all of them, especially if they are minorities, especially Muslims and Latinos. 

Now it is true that Clinton has talked about it less than he has, but she has had a clear policy position on it and has mentioned the issue on a not too infrequent basis, if not as much as Trump, including today in her final ad, which had it as one of the four issues she is touting on the last day before the election.  It is hardly being ignored by either of them.

Regarding analysis of this, at least RJS is not too unreasonable.  He supports the Clinton proposals adding only that there be an E-enforcement of not hiring illegal immigrants.

Ah, but more of the article was about the old bugaboo, old peoples' entitlements, listed as Social Security, Medicare, and nursing home support under Medicaid.  So, he mostly repeated old tales, most of them shown the door well by Dean Baker today.  What else is there to say?

Well, I note that RJS mentioned two specific policy changes he thinks should be part of the new intergenerational "social contract": raising the retirement age and reducing benefits for higher income people.  Starting with the second, this would be a foot in the door to undermining long run support for Social Security, if higher income people came to view Social Security as "welfare for the undeserving poor," rather than as social insurance that covers them also. 

As for raising the retirement age, this is supposed to be something to help young people against the supposedly rapacious old farts. But the hard political reality is that it will not be imposed on those nasty old boomers (and certainly not on the already retired). If the past raising of the retirement age (which he also wants for Medicare and the Medicaid stuff) is any guide, it will be imposed on much younger people, proabably tail-end boomers and more so on Gen-Xers and Millennials, the people whom he claims are to be helped by all these "reforms" he and the usual gang of VSPs keep pushing.  That this claim of helping young people is totally hypocritical somehow never seems to occur to Samuelson or his pals.

Needless to say, he says not a word about the possibility of raising fica taxes, even though polls have consistently shown solid support for this if need be.  As it is, simply raising the income cap if necessary would be an easy way to go, and would stick it to the higher income folks without undermining their support for the system the way that explicitly cutting their benefits would.

I will give RJS one point on this.  This issue has indeed not been talked about much by the candidates, and clearly his and the more general VSP frustration here has been that the talk is now if anything about increasing benefits, at least from Clinton.  RJS has admitted that even Trump has mumbled occasionally about this, although as with many issues his views on it are murky. But he has at least been clear that he does not support any cuts in benefits. So, the poor VSPs are left with neither candidate saying much about this and certainly not openly supporting their agenda.  Tears are just gushing out of my eyes in sympathy for them on this (not).

Barkley Rosser


Bruce Webb said...

Hi Barkley. Had, indeed still having my own super serious health crisis. As in typing this from hospital. But it didn't kill me. And likely won't.

Not sure I can say the same about RJS on SecSec. The whole intergenerational warfare narrative was established in 1983 with "Leninist Strategy" and worked on three fronts: Reassure the Olds (mostly Greatests), Scare the Youngs (Gen. X) and Blame Boomers. This was done by sheltering those then 55 and older from cuts. But force them on Selfish Me Generatieon Boomers.

The reassure the old piece was and is political, masking cynical desire to gut SocSec with a veneer of compassion. But it doesn't work on the Victims and Villains overlap as Boomers became Olds. Under Leninist the Boomers have to get free pass even as they lose policy battle.

Bruce Webb said...

Almost every Right "Reform" Plan gives some sort of break for those "in or approaching retirement" and define that as ten years or workers 55 and older. This just by calendar includes 3/4 of Boomers ands most plans are phased in in ways that protect the rest.

Hell of a way to fight that Generational War - write checks to the original offenders before the action starts. said...

Sorry you are having health problems, Bruce. Hope you get better soon. I am still recovering from all my fun and games, but definitely doing better.

In any case, it is sort of curious about how those pushing these intergenerational wars manage to seriously confuse those involved.