Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More talk on making Social Security more progressive -- and quickly

Michael Gerson has another “challenging” column Tueday Dec. 28 in the Washington Post, p A13, called “Face Social Security” in print, and “Social Security reform is the answer to Obama’s – and the nation’s” online, link here.

The essay doesn’t quite support the ambitious (if not bombastic) title. He does say that entitlement reform is more realistic than broad-based tax reform, but admits first that Medicare has the biggest problems, but then writes “While Social Security is a relatively small contributor to future deficits, reforming it would be a large symbol and a logical place to begin.”

True, Social Security doesn’t face immediate default because of an accounting trick – it can use other government IOU’s to coverup shortfalls.

The recommendations are the same – raising retirement age, and reducing benefits according to Means, with a taste of Marx, the way soldiers used to make fun of “pinko” in the barracks.

To the extent that social security and Medicare are supported by “taxes”, they ought to be progressive and part of the general tax system. But this is where the libertarian-side of the GOP had it right: there ought to be more that you own, and that can’t be expropriated.

It is sounding more as though the means testing will be proposed to come (as James Baker used to say, in a different context) “sooner rather than later”.

Gerson’s comments follow Samuelson’s by a day (yesterday’s post). Yes, there’s no way to make Life fair.

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