02 March 2004

Behind Greenspan's Social Security comment

A few days ago Alan Greenspan spoke up about the need to cut Social Security benefits due to looming budget deficits.

Now I'm the first to say that I don't believe that Social Security will last long enough for me to collect on it. The rapidly approaching demographic crisis of long-lived Boomers is going to kill the system as we know it. At the crudest level, I agree with Greenspan: we should bump the retirement age out a few years and start means-testing benefits.

But the first order of business in dealing with growing budget deficits is to fix the nutty Bush administration tax cuts, and Greenspan has so far held his tongue on that point. What's going on here?

As usual, Paul Krugman makes the murky clear.

If anyone had tried to sell this package honestly -- ''Let's raise taxes and cut benefits for working families so we can give big tax cuts to the rich!'' -- voters would have been outraged. So the class warriors of the right engaged in bait-and-switch.
The right-wing corruption of our government system -- the partisan takeover of institutions that are supposed to be nonpolitical -- continues, and even extends to the Federal Reserve.

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