You all know how much I admire reasonable Republicans. Or at least, you know how much I would admire them if they existed. For the record: any Republican who is reasonable has already become a Democrat. The people like David Frum are not reasonable. This is very simple, people! “Not crazy” does not mean “reasonable.” Instead, “not crazy” means less— perhaps, “reasonable fascist.”
Ross Douthat is a supposed reasonable Republican. How do I know? He’s a Republican and he is sometimes on Up with Chris Hayes. But unlike Josh Barro, who often makes a lot of sense, Douthat just annoys me. In fact, what most annoys me is that he is a Catholic, yet doesn’t evidence much in terms of Christian compassion. Also, he doesn’t write nearly as well as Garry Wills.
Most recently, Douthat tells us about, Our Enemy, the Payroll Tax. It’s a bit weird, because he is making sense but in the cause of evil. He says we should turn Social Security into a plain old-fashioned tax.
Yes! We should do that! If we did that, we could get rid of the Social Security cap. The problem with the way it is now is that people think of it as an insurance program: the more you pay in, the more you get out. And this justifies billionaires paying in a pittance, because they will only get what they consider a pittance out. But if Social Security is just a tax like any other, there is no justification for this most regressive of taxes. In fact, we might even be able to make it a little progressive. But for the time, making Social Security a flat tax would be a huge improvement. (And that ought to give you some idea of how awful the system is today.)
Douthat isn’t for turning Social Security into a regular tax for this reason. He thinks that by making it a regular tax, Social Security will become just another social safety net program. And this will make it easier to cut or even destroy. (Do you see what I’m saying about Douthat’s Catholicism? Forcing the old into poverty just doesn’t strike me as Christ like.)
I think Douthat is completely misreading the situation. Social Security is not sacrosanct because people think of it as an insurance program. It is sacrosanct because it is used by the elderly, and the elderly vote. So this is a fight that I welcome. Let’s make Social Security and Medicare programs like any others. Let’s soak the rich (as much as we are soaking everyone else). And let’s have this fight. I’m certain the forces of evil (Douthat leading his modern Inquisition torturers) will lose.
Bring it on.