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December 14, 2004

Fixing What’s broke

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Brad DeLong says:

Current Policy Surpluses and Deficits: General Fund and Social Security

The U.S. government’s fiscal problems are not in the Social Security system. The U.S. government’s fiscal problems are in the General Fund. And these fiscal problems are dire indeed.

“Ah,” some Republican will say, “but the Social Security system’s finances get much worse after 2014.” That is indeed true. But the General Fund’s problems get worse too–and get worse at a much faster rate: the Bush tax cuts, Medicare, and Medicaid guarantee that.

So why dink around claiming that the most important fiscal-policy thing to do right now is to “fix Social Security”? When the General Fund has problems five times as big happening five times faster?

The obvious answer is that the Bushies have no more intention of “fixing” (in the commonly accepted meaning of the term) Social Security than they have of cutting the deficit in the General Fund.

The only useful counterweight is to contrast their multi-trillion dollar “plan” with estimates of how much it would cost to actually fix Social Security (preferably estimates made using the same unrealistic assumptions as the Bushies use for their plan to kill it).

Fixing the deficit in the General Fund will have to wait till after 2008. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball …

Posted by distler at December 14, 2004 12:13 AM

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