Friday, November 5, 2010

Wait. The Republicans Didn't Run on Cutting Social Security Did They?

Because that's the Republican agenda now that the election is over. Eric Cantor writes his fellow Republicans:

"Getting our long-term deficit under control will require that we address major entitlement reform.� It is a conversation that we must have, but one that is easier said than done. President Obama, congressional Democrats, and their liberal allies have made it abundantly clear that they will attack anyone who puts forward a plan that even tries to begin a conversation about the tough choices that are needed."

Entitlements being, of course, Social Security and Medicare. The Economist and Kevin Drum point out that Republicans spent the campaign season savaging Dems for reining in Medicare in the health bill -- but now that the election's over, things have changed.

My problem isn't the hypocrisy -- well, ok, my problem is partly the hypocrisy. Instead, I hate it when people run for office with big plans they don't tell the public about. That's deceiving the voters -- if only by omission -- and it's a lousy way to make a democracy. One reason George W. Bush started sinking so quickly after the 2004 election isn't just that he tried to privatize Social Security; it's that he didn't raise it as an issue until after the election was over. It's bait-and-switch, and it shouldn't be rewarded.


Rick Henderson said...

Explain "cutting Social Security." If Cantor means changing the formula for calculating COLAs -- which is at a rate that's much more generous than CPI -- that's not cutting Social Security. It's reducing the rate of growth of benefits. (This is a reform that's been backed by a number of Democrats over the years, by the way.)

Besides, Joel, you say Republicans talk a good game about genuine spending cuts but never offer any. Now they might be, and you savage them.

The hypocrisy bothers me a little, too.

Joel said...

Rick: Where's the hypocrisy on my part? I'm not savaging the Republicans for offering some details, finally. I'm "savaging" them for waiting until after the election to offer details when these details were clearly in the cards all along.

Or do you think Eric Cantor just came up with this plan in the last three days?

Rick Henderson said...

Paul Ryan's "roadmap" includes plans to make some significant changes (including some genuine cuts) to entitlements, and while not all Republicans embraced it, it wasn't as if Ryan was ashamed of it. And Cantor is widely seen as an ally of Ryan.

So I have no idea why you seem so surprised by all this.

I see this ad run by incumbent N.C. Democrat Mike McIntyre, who barely won his bid for re-election, with a message that's been echoed in other Democratic districts, much more hypocritical.

After all, even the most radical Social Security reforms proposed by major party candidates would not touch benefits for current retirees. This commercial doesn't mention that.

Rick Henderson said...

Besides, it's not as if House Republicans can implement their reforms unilaterally. Last I checked, Democrats still control the Senate. And Obama has his veto pen.

A little decaf, perhaps?