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Hullabaloo


Sunday, November 21, 2010

 
Guess Who's More Trusted On Social Security Now?

by digby

Houston, we have a problem. A new poll says that large majorities of both parties and the Tea Party don't want benefits cuts Social Security or raising the retirement age but do believe that raising the cap on high earners makes sense.

But something has gone horribly wrong:

Who will better handle Social Security?

• Republicans vs. Democrats in Congress:

  • 31% (R) to 28% (D);
  • 34% both the same

• Republicans in Congress vs. Obama:
  • 33% (R) to 26% (Obama);
  • 31% both the same


That's right, Republicans now have the advantage on Social Security over the Democrats and President Obama. I don't know if that's been true since the 1930s.

I guess this is a natural reaction to being bombarded for two years with propaganda about Obama's death panels and then Democrats and the president lead the charge to "reform" social security. Apparently, this has led a fair number of people to conclude that it's the oppositional Republicans who are standing up for them. At the very least, the vast majority have decided that Democrats are no longer the defenders of social security they have been for 60 years.

I'm fairly certain that this comes from the inane belief among the Democratic elite that people really truly care about "the deficit" and will reward the Very Serious people who demand sacrifice from people who are scared stiff about the future. It's a joke. And as Mike the Mad Biologist pointed out, it's a sucker's game:
The ... fantasy is that if you pass some sort of plan which gets Social Security in surplus for the next 75 years according to the SSA then you get credit for "saving" Social Security and that the issue will be then off the table until the end of time. What will happen in practice is that the trustees will inevitably make minor and completely reasonable tweaks to the assumptions underlying their projections so they can once again have the trio of "nightmare," "middle ground," and "everything's awesome" scenarios, with the middle ground scenario showing problems at some point in the future. Then the pain caucus will be back to tell us just how much granny needs to starve and Wall Street will return to siphon up all the money into their gaping maws.

You don't have to be a political or mathematical genius to see that solving problems that don't exist will not bring you any credibility among the people. (Or even among the cynical Villagers who will simply laugh at your foolishness and pick up right where they left off.) If these numbers are correct, this silly gambit may have cost the Democrats the last bit of their real credibility as the protectors of the safety net --- the only thing they have been good for for the past 25 years.

Update: It appears that the NY Times made a major error which, so far, it's refusing to correct. I understand that the ombudsman may take it up if enough people draw it to his attention. This one's important. If you have a chance to read the article I linked and send a quick, polite note to the Ombudsman at public@nytimes.com it could make a difference. It's bad enough that people are relying on projections 75 years into the future to destroy the New Deal, but the least they could do is correct numbers that are clearly incorrect today. Social Security is not going broke in 2015.

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