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I’ll Stop Calling it “Destroying” Social Security When They Stop Trying to Destroy Social Security

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"I’ll Stop Calling it “Destroying” Social Security When They Stop Trying to Destroy Social Security"

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Gail Collins offers a bit of the own pox on both houses:

I like partisanship. What I don’t like, and what nobody likes, is the brain-dead variety we see in Congress where the minority party would rather make a bill worse in the hopes that it would fail than make it better in case it passes. So the Republicans make it impossible for the Democrats to put cost controls in the health care plan by howling “rationing!” And back when the Democrats were in the minority, they made sure that any attempt to contain the cost of entitlements was immediately branded “destruction of Social Security”

Look. Social Security is projected to face a deficit over the long haul. Expenditures, in other words, are projected to exceed revenues. People concerned about this problem will be proposing some mixture of higher revenues and lower expenditures. The more conservative you are, the more inclined you’ll be to want to do this through lowering expenditures rather than raising revenues. But what George W. Bush and his administration proposed to do was not to close the gap between Social Security’s projected revenue and projected expenditures through any mix of revenue enhancements or expenditure reductions. Instead, they proposed to, over time, phase Social Security out and replace it with a differently structured program of mandatory savings.

That was a proposal to destroy Social Security, not a proposal to reduce its project deficit. And it certainly wasn’t “any attempt to contain the cost of entitlements.” It was a very specific and narrow set of proposals; the administration said they wouldn’t consider any ideas that didn’t involve privatizing Social Security. The Diamond-Orszag balanced approach to Social Security was an effort to contain the cost of entitlements. Bush didn’t propose anything of the sort.

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