Thursday, November 7, 2013

HT Save Social Security and Fuck the Repugs Over At the Same Time

On the principle that the best defense is a good offense, the way to save Social Security from the Austerity Hysterics demanding benefit cuts is to counter with demands to increase benefits and make billionaires pay for it.

Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly:

The idea has been kicking around think tanks (notably the Economic Policy Institute) and the blogosphere (particularly Atrios, who’s made this a personal crusade) for a while, but now is getting some serious buzz in the Senate: it’s time not to trim but to expand Social Security benefits.

Unions and progressive activists are uniting around Tom Harkin’s bill to boost benefits by $70 a month for all Social Security recipients (and more for those heavily dependent on benefits for retirement security), increase (rather than decrease, as the “chained CPI” tentatively accepted by the White House as part of a not-going-to-happen “grand bargain” would do) the cost-of-living adjustment formula, and pay for it all by eliminating the regressive payroll tax cap for the program.

It’s obviously a good move for progressives to insist on looking at Social Security not as a part of the “entitlement problem,” but as a crucial part of a system of retirement security that’s been deeply eroded by recession-decimated assets and the shift in private-sector pensions from defined benefit to defined contribution plans.

But there’s a more purely political angle that’s now being emphasized by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), as discussed today by Greg Sargent:
Brown argues that if Republicans push for Social Security benefits cuts as part of any deal, Dems should counter with the Harkin proposal to shift the terms of the debate in a Democratic direction. Democratic priorities, he said, should be centered on the idea that declining pensions and wages (and savings) are undermining retirement security, and added that the public strongly opposed gutting social insurance.
“The situation for seniors is only going to get worse, because the assault on pensions and wages is making it more and more difficult for a worker to save for the future,” Brown said. “Why are we having a debate over how much we are going to hurt seniors? The debate should be over how we should structure a pension for seniors that will help them. Why would we play on their playing field? Democrats need to play offense here. Force Republicans to say what it is they really want to do. Republicans just don’t like social insurance.”
Raising benefits and eliminating the income cap is the morally correct thing to do. It's the economically sound thing to do. And it's the politically smart thing to do.

Use this plan as a Democratic candidate litmus test. Candidates who reject it are repugs, not Democrats. Candidates who claim it is not a good idea on moral, economic or political grounds are liars. And candidates who bleat that it's "impossible in today's Congress" are cowardly worms and wastes of oxygen.

Speaking of which, I wonder what Alison thinks of it.

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