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Friday, February 18, 2005

The Song Remains The Same

From The New York Times:
The majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, said subjecting more earnings to the payroll tax amounted to a tax increase and was unacceptable. His comments came a day after the publication of newspaper interviews in which Mr. Bush left open the possibility of lifting the earnings cap as part of a plan to put Social Security on permanently sound footing.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert joined Mr. DeLay in distancing House Republicans from the idea. Their quick and negative reaction underscored the difficulty the administration is having in moving forward with its plan to overhaul Social Security, the issue Mr. Bush has put at the top of his domestic agenda and made a test of his political clout.

So now the question is, if you were to pick sides based on who is the lesser of two evils, which side do you belong to?

There's no doubt that DeLay is one of the scurviest of scurvy dogs on the right, but the times in which I've agreed with the president have been few and far between as well.

It's pretty clear that DeLay (and Hastert, for that matter) has only the interests of the richest of the rich (ie, his constituents in Sugarland, which is one of the wealthiest districts in America) in mind1. He's got no love for Social Security as a system, and the moment that the administration comes up with a plan for privatization that doesn't involve upping the amount of pay that can be taxed for social security, he'll get right on board.

On the other hand, anything that throws a rod in the gears of privatization is a good thing in my book. If nothing else, this will make the president realize that his GOP congress isn't just going to take his suggestions and run all the way to the bank with them. (This is, after all, Bush's last term.)

Clearly, it's not a question of who to side with on this particular method of Social Security reform, it's a question of the bigger picture. Does social security need to be reformed? Yes. Is the best way to reform the system crippling it with privatization? No2.

This may be the only time in history that you'll find me agreeing with Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert. No, I don't think that it's a good idea to increase earnings subjected to payroll tax, but only because I think the swift passage of this series of reforms is even worse.

1"How do people like DeLay sell themselves convincingly to anybody but the wealthy?" a friend of mine asked after reading the above article.

"DeLay's thing is that he doesn't have to convince anyone but the wealthy," I said. The 22nd Congressional district of Texas is one of the richest in America. So he can be as radical as he wants, as long as he doesn't reneg on cutting taxes at any cost."

2There's way too much to get into on the basic reasons why Social Security privatization is a terrible idea, but luckily, Princeton professor of economics and international affairs Paul Krugman is an economic genius, and has smashed all arguments for it into smithereens. Additionally, you can hear a Q&A session between Krugman and Michael Tanner, director of Health and Welfare Studies at the Cato Institute, here.


Blogger Ben said...

"Hey look at me! I'm Zane, I love the government! I love giving the government allll my money! I hate wealth and its engines! Woowowowowoeeooeoeo.."

7:20 PM  

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