WHERE SENIORS FEAR TO TREAD….In the Washington Post today, George Will suggests that President Bush will win the Social Security debate as soon as seniors realize they have nothing to fear from privatization. Matt Yglesias skewers this argument nicely. Most 55-year-olds today, after all, probably expect to live at least another 20-25 years, by which time the Bush privatization quasi-plan will have added several trillion dollars in new debt to an already debt-strapped country.
What 55-year-old would look at those numbers, breathe easy, and expect to keep receiving full benefits? (Or, more precisely, expect that they won’t see their benefits chewed up by ever-larger taxes in the future to pay for all that debt?) Sure, the president can promise that their checks will keep coming, but he’s only going to be around another 4 years, and Congresses of the future won’t feel bound to protect anyone if the deficit reaches crisis proportions. As we saw yesterday with Alan Greenspan’s 1983 plan to “save” Social Security, the first instinct of most conservatives is to keep income taxes as low as possible, and not to preserve any sort of safety net for retirees. It’s no wonder seniors are feeling a bit antsy. (Well, that and some seniors apparently care about the future of their kids and grandkids. How bizarre, huh?)