The Washington Post is at it again with an all new attack on Social Security and the long con that retirees are perpetuating against the young, Social Security Proposals Are Wrongheaded. It starts by bemoaning the fact that the Holy Grail of the Very Serious “Centrists” have not and probably will not come to pass. This, of course, is the lauded Grand Bargain: cuts in Social Security and Medicare in exchange for mythical tax increases that would be a bad idea even if they were real.
But the editorial waits until the second paragraph to get to its point. You see, there has been some pushback recently on entitlements by liberals. Finally, people are looking around at other advanced economies and seeing that they treat their seniors a hell of a lot better than we do. As much as the Very Serious Choir would have us believe that we are drowning our older citizens in benefits, it turns out that we are actually stingy. You fought in World War II? Who cares?! What have you done for us lately?!
Senator Tom Harkin (Happy 74th birthday!) and Representative Linda Sanchez have proposed increasing Social Security benefits. But the Washington Post calls this “a case study in how not to redefine liberalism for the 21st century.” That’s rich! Over the last 20 years (and to a large extent 37 years), the Democratic Party has moved further and further to the right. But the Post thinks that liberalism needs to be further “redefined”?! How is that possible unless the Post’s idea of liberalism is unusually defined like this:
After explaining the proposal, the Post gets down to the real problem (even though they claim it isn’t), “It’s a massive transfer of income from upper-income Americans to the retired.” Don’t be fooled, this is always the reason that the Very Serious People want to cut entitlements. It isn’t about the kids or the survival of the program. The concern about debt is that it may reach a point where taxes have to go up on the rich. And that is totally unacceptable to these people.
Both Dean Baker and Paul Krugman lashed out at the editorial. I think that Baker is pretty tired of this. It is like a daily battle between him and Fox on 15th as he describes the paper. You can see his weariness in the title, The Washington Post Wants to Kick Seniors Yet Again. Nonetheless, he does put the editorial in the broader context, “However, the greatest absurdity of the Post’s crusade is that its obsession with austerity and budget deficits is denying income to both the young and old…”
This goes back to my main point about the whole deficit scold industry: these people don’t care about high levels of unemployment and millions of wasted lives. They don’t care about improving the economy. They don’t even care about debt as is clear by the fact that they don’t believe in raising taxes. All they care about is protecting the rich from any social demands at all. And this is all coming from a respected mainstream newspaper. People like Harkin and Sanchez are right to pushback against the austerity crowd, because clearly the “centrists” in the mainstream press have been co-opted by the right.