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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Matt Miller in The New York Times:

Wanted: Responsible Demagoguery

"You'd never guess from the Democratic hysteria that President Bush's plan to "progressively index" Social Security is an idea we liberals may one day want to embrace. So farsighted Democrats who want to (1) win back power and (2) use that power to fix big problems should quit carping about Bush's evil "cuts" and punish him instead with what I call Responsible Demagoguery: harsh politics that leaves sound policy intact.

Why do I say this? Start with this poorly understood fact: Under today's system of "wage indexed" benefits, every new cohort of retirees is guaranteed a higher level of real benefits than the previous generation. Workers retiring in 2025, for example, are scheduled to receive payments 20 percent higher in real terms than today's retirees. Today's teenagers are slated to get a 60 percent increase. When Democrats cry about "cuts," they mean trims from these higher levels."

How about John Kerry on Means Testing (as a candidate, on Meet the Press):

  • SEN. KERRY: Tim, we're going to have a bigger economy. We have more Americans who are working. We have the ability to grow out of it. Now, if we don't do that--let me give you an idea. You and I earn a lot of money. We're very lucky. If you live to be 85, Tim, do you think it's right that somebody who earns $30,000 a year after you've gotten all your money out of Social Security, after you've gotten everything and more than you paid is paying you money? I think there are plenty of ways to look at things. We don't have to tell Americans it won't be there, because it will be there. And we certainly don't have to cut benefits to pay for George Bush's unaffordable tax cut. [Emph. added]