Monday, February 28, 2005

DeLong: Why Social Security Deals Are Not a Good Idea

Brad DeLong's Website: Social Security Deals: Why They Are Not a Good Idea

DeLong reacts to a seemingly reasonable proposal for social security reform that's been associated with Joe Lieberman. The bottom line is that Bush has shown, time and again, that he can't be trusted. Emphases mine
1.. A Social Security reform bill that uncaps FICA, uses half the new FICA money for sweetening the pot for a well-implemented forced-savings private account program, and that uses the other half of FICA money plus some benefit cuts/retirement age increases to bring Social Security itself into seventy-five year actuarial balance in a well-implemented way--that's a reform bill that is good for the country.

2. However, you cannot get there: whatever deals are struck between Graham and Lieberman will be undone in the conference committee.

3. And even if you could get there in the sense of having a deal on the major outlines of the reform bill, the devil is in the details--and everything we know about the Bush administration tells us that it is incapable of implementing anything well: something always goes wrong (due either to incompetence or malevolence or both) to make Bush-implemented policy initiative a bad idea.

4. So the only way to fix Social Security is to do so in a way that keeps the Bush administration's mitts off of the implementation, and the final form of the legislation out of the hands of a Republican-dominated conference committee.

5. Therefore, if Lieberman is going to bargain, he needs to bargain first for a special rule to govern the legislative process, second for the removal of drafting details from Republican-controlled staffs, and third for a separate--and non-Bush controlled--bureaucracy to implement the program.

What Josh is saying is that all that is simply not going to happen, so that (1) is irrelevant. But it is important not to lose sight of the fact that (1) is true.
Bottom line -- there's no real way to a bargain given the track records of the Bush administration and the GOP.

No comments: