Oh GOOD, Bill Keller, a millionaire who used to manage the typists at the New York Times, is here to fix the deficit for us by summarizing a report by the Third Way that itself is based on Congressional Budget Office statistics taken completely out of context. But it’s ok, because the Third Way is a “centrist” organization. (“Centrism,” as we all know, refers not to ideas that are actually in the political center, but rather to ideas that are mostly held by rich white men who talk on the teevee or type in columns about GOP ideas but CALL them centrist, thus confusing “centrism” with ideas that they themselves like and have.) So Bill Keller, centrist, is here to save entitlements by making sure that people entitled to them don’t actually get what they’re entitled to.
In 1962, we were laying down the foundations of prosperity. About 32 cents of every federal dollar, excluding interest payments, was spent on investments, only 14 percent on entitlements. In the mid-70s the lines crossed. [According to a recent report by the Third Way] we spend less than 15 cents on investment and 46 cents on entitlements. And it gets worse. By 2030, when the last of us boomers have surged onto the Social Security rolls, entitlements will consume 61 cents of every federal dollar, starving our already neglected investment and leaving us, in the words of the study, with “a less-skilled work force, lower rates of job creation, and an infrastructure unfit for a 21st-century economy.” […]
BY THE WAY, we took a look at the CBO report upon which this Third Way report is supposedly based, and they seem to have selectively culled statistics and taken a lot of stuff out context, which is totally not shocking at all.
The Republican plan espoused by Mitt Romney and his fiscal lodestar Paul Ryan would cut the cost of entitlements largely by moving toward privatization: personal investment accounts for Social Security, vouchers for Medicare. And it’s not at all clear the Republicans would assign any of the savings to investing in our future.
At least the Republicans have a plan. The Democrats generally recoil from the subject of entitlements. Centrists like those at Third Way and the bipartisan authors of the Simpson-Bowles report endorse a menu of incremental cuts and reforms that would bring down costs without hitting the needy or snatching away the security blanket from those nearing retirement. They include gradually raising the retirement age to compensate for the fact that we now live, on average, 14 years longer than when F.D.R. signed Social Security into law. They include obliging those of us who can really afford it to pay a larger share. They also include technical fixes like aligning the automatic cost-of-living formula with reality. To curtail the raging inflation of health costs, the government could better use its market clout to hasten electronic record-keeping, replace the fee-for-service model, reform medical malpractice laws and promote living wills. (A quarter of health care spending comes in the last year of life.) But you won’t hear much of that on the campaign trail.
Oh you know, except for the People’s Budget, the Budget For All, the Schakowsky Deficit Reduction Plan–except for those, it’s ABSOLUTELY true that “liberals” and “progressives” and Democrats don’t have a plan. And also, let your Wonkette note that his claim that the arithmetic will not work via “liberal” solutions is not exactly true, given that other people have said that the arithmetic will work. But as Your Wonkette has noted, the GOP (and we guess “centrists too now) sometimes have problems with math. It’s ok, we can blame public schools, who have decided that math is probably too hard.)
The traditional liberal alternatives — raise taxes on the well-to-do, cut military spending — are not nearly enough by themselves. The arithmetic simply doesn’t work, unless we face the fact that entitlements are a bargain we can’t afford to keep, not in full…At least the Republicans have a plan. The Democrats generally recoil from the subject of entitlements…. We should make a sensible reform of entitlements our generation’s cause. We should stiffen the spines of our politicians, and push lobby groups like A.A.R.P. to climb out of the bunker and lead. (And, by the way, we should resist the boomer temptation to take every cent of the reform from the pockets of our kids.) We should keep the heat on Congress and the president to double down on the cost-saving provisions in Obamacare.
Did you know that raising taxes on the wealthy was a “liberal” value? We did not, seeing as taxes for the wealthy were higher under St. Reagan than they are now. And this thing about retiring 14 years or however many years later is great for typists like Your Wonkette and Bill Keller, but for construction workers and waitresses, possibly not so much! Same with people of color, who will never get to retire if the age is raised beyond their life expectancies, which as of 1990 was the same as the life expectancy of men in Bangladesh (seriously). But this is why we type for Wonkette and not the New York Times, it is because we are screeching liberals and not “centrists.”