THE BOBBSEY TWINS TAKE ON SOCIAL SECURITY….Do David Brooks and John Tierney call each other up to coordinate op-eds, or what? Here’s Tierney on Saturday writing about George Bush’s Social Security plan:
Faced with the grim math, President Bush offered a progressive compromise last week to Democrats: protect the poor while moderating the growth of benefits for higher-income workers. Democrats refused to bite, denouncing his “cuts” without offering a plan of their own, and members of both parties wondered why any politician would jeopardize his party’s chances in 2006 by tackling an unpleasant future problem.
By embracing the progressive indexing of Social Security benefits, the president has asked us to make a shared sacrifice for the common good. He’s asking middle- and upper-class folks to accept benefit cuts so there will be money for the people who are really facing poverty….So how has the St. Francis of Assisi wing of the Democratic Party responded to Bush’s challenge? Does it applaud him for doing what it has spent the past years telling him he should do? Of course not.
It’s like they both got the same talking points memo from the RNC and dutifully phoned in bright-eyed paeans to the courage of Dear Leader George Bush and the duplicity and intransigence of the Great Satan Democratic Party. “How can Democrats possibly be against a more socialist version of Social Security?” they moan in mock solidarity with the downtrodden workers of America.
But Bush’s plan wouldn’t cut benefits only for high income workers, it would cut benefits for both low-income workers and the middle class too. Democrats have never been in favor of that, and Tierney and Brooks know it. A plan that cut benefits for Donald Trump would be one thing ? although it would save so little money as to be barely worth bothering with ? but a plan that cuts benefits for people earning $10 an hour is just a cynical ploy. Pretending not to know that, even when they’re doing it in unison, is cynicism squared.
POSTSCRIPT: Tierney has sure been a disappointment so far as a Times columnist. I didn’t expect to agree with him, but I did expect that he’d at least be interesting. So far, though, his columns have been little more than rewarmed Heritage Foundation fact sheets. What a waste.