As regular readers know, I’ve been drawing attention regularly to an online forum called “Progressive Perspectives on the New Deal/Great Society Entitlement Programs” over at The American Prospect which is cosponsored by The Democratic Strategist, my online home-away-from-home where I serve as Managing Editor.
The forum appears to have concluded today with matched rejoinders from two of the essayists originally featured, Robert Kuttner of the Prospect and William Galston of the Brookings Institution. Those of you familiar with these two gentlemen will not be surprised to find they disagree about a fair number of things. Basically, Kuttner believes any talk of curtailing or further means-testing Social Security and Medicare benefits creates a trap that leads directly away from the progressive economic policies and aggressive public intervention in health care that can alone boost growth while reducing inequality. Galston thinks only economic growth fueled by public investments can create the resources and the political space necessary to sustain entitlements, and there are ways to reduce long-term entitlement spending without affecting people who really need the benefits.
I recommend you read both rejoinders–and the whole forum–for a much clearer understanding of where “traditional liberals” and “centrists” differ on this highly emotional topic, and where common ground remains.