Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Social Security Crisis as "Neocon Plot"

I love this editorial from the San Diego Union Tribune, which notes that despite decades of warnings that Social Security's long-term sustainability is suspect, hard left commentators dismiss calls for reform as a "neocon plot":
For decades, pundits, think tanks, presidents and Congress have put out dire warnings about the enormous strain that the retirement of the massive baby boom generation will place on the federal government. Nevertheless, except for a serious entitlements reform push led by Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in the mid-1990s and President George Bush's attempts to kick-start Social Security reform in 2005, the issue has been largely ignored.
The debate over the entitlements crunch will cease to be academic on Jan. 1, when the first of the 78 million surviving boomers will turn 62 and become eligible for Social Security. (Just yesterday the nation's first baby boomer applied for Social Security benefits.) Even this approaching landmark, however, has not shaken the what-me-worry set. The Democratic presidential front-runner – Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. – has all but ruled out any significant changes. Meanwhile, it is increasingly common to hear pundits and rising young liberal commentators such as Matthew Yglesis assert there is no entitlements crisis – that it's all a “neocon” plot of nefarious origin.

Never explained is how – without wrenching change – we can go from a nation where there are four people working and paying payroll taxes for every retiree reliant on Social Security and Medicare to a nation where the ratio is 2-to-1. Never explained is how the federal government will pay for national defense or children's health coverage or any of hundreds of other worthy programs in 2030 when entitlement costs and interest on the debt will gobble up 75 percent of incoming revenue.
The editorial notes that negotiations are currently underway to hammer out a compromise on entitlement reform, which might include further increases in the retirement age in exchange for an increase in the top income level subject to Social Security taxes. It's not privatization, but it's a start. As the editorical notes:

Nevertheless, at some point, everyone who cares about the future of the country has to embrace problem-solving over absolutism.

The hard-left netroots could not care less about problem solving, of course. If the GOP has anything to do with a policy proposal, the idea must be some neoconservative plot hatched from the evil confines of the Bush White House.