as it goes in blurgistan so it goes...,
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the barry does not fall far from the shrub...,
The Center for American Progress has written up this very serious proposal for social security. Around the 750 word mark, with no proposal yet forthcoming, I began to think about how CAP got their seed capital out of the Golden West Financial goose egg that cost Americans oh god who knows how much. By the 1500 word mark, with still no word of the proposal, my mind began to wander back to the Clinton administration's attacks - back when CAP's John Podesta was chief of staff - on Social Security in the late 90s, pronouncing that the program needed saving and giving the GOP numerous quotes to attack it with during their subsequent efforts to destroy the program (Clinton's plan: invest the budget surplus in the market at the peak of the internet bubble).
There's not a single detail about what CAP is proposing yet, 1500 words in, but something must be done. Not until around the 1,979th word - after 1,978 spent re-assuring us that they are indeed progressive and not setting out to dismantle the program and are just about to give us a real serious super modern plan to progressivate our primary social insurance program - do we get a proposal. I'm not sure why we needed 1,978 words of reassurance that they weren't going to undermine social security if they had a proposal that wasn't going to undermine social security.
As Dean Baker explains well enough what these really serious progressives eventually get around to proposing is a reduction in Social Security benefits for folks making a lifetime average of over $60,000 in household income, which is to say they want to slash benefits starting in the center of the middle class. This could really break new ground for opponents of the program who already attack it as a welfare program.
They also want to index the cost of living adjustments to "a more consistent and more accurate measure of inflation over time", which is another way of saying they want to slash benefits for everybody, because anytime inflation indexes are brought up by anybody with regard to social security it is an argument that the CPI exaggerates inflation. Due to a surplus in wingnut welfare the neoliberal and libertarian think tanks have whole stables of disinflation experts rested and ready to attack the COLA as too generous, the CPI a gross exaggeration, and the conservatives who have been raising panics over hyperinflation will turn right around and happily support them.
And last but not least they want to meet the privatization crowd in the middle and invest part of the trust fund in the stock market: this has been proposed over and over again and is never seen as a compromise by anybody who wants to privatize the program. The government investing in the stock market would be communism: the only way to privatize the program to their satisfaction is for the government to force people to contribute to individual investment accounts run by some private enterprise propped up by public monopoly that churns out profits made of graft and waste.
There's no reason for sincere reformers to open the program up for attack like this. The serious progressive plan to modernize social security and deal with a projected shortfall that doesn't start for another three decades is to simply lift the cap so rich people have to pay social security taxes like the rest of us and the program can continue paying out 100% of its benefits into perpetuity. Make payroll taxes a flat tax, problem solved! CAP only proposes lifting half the cap: a very progressive policy to retain a very regressive tax structure.