Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A Bright Spot

Paul Krugman is, to my mind, one of the bright spots in the American media today.
I have read his columns faithfully for the past few years, and greatly admire the way he lays out difficult economic issues and, in particular, spells out the ways in which Americans are being misled by the Bush administration.
Today he wrote about the Republicans' manufactured "crisis" in Social Security, which supposedly is leading them to privatize this venerated public system. From Krugman, we hear that Social Security is actuall runnin a surplus today, thanks to an increase in the payroll tax during the Reagan administration that enabled us to set up a Social Security "trust fund" to hedge against the approaching "Baby Boom" retirement years when payouts are expected to increase enormously.
Yes, revenues will begin to lag behind payments in about 10 years, but only because the Republican administration and Congress are unwilling to take the most sensible step: Make another small increase in the payroll tax.
Even at current rates, the system will be able to meet its obligations for about another 50 years, at which point the ability to meet payments would fall to about 80 per cent, based on current projections.
So why is this a crisis?
Krugman doesn't write this, but I will:
Because of Grover Norquist and his cronies, that's why.
Grover, who has made it a stated goal to bankrupt the federal budget so that we have no choice but to cut entitlement programs, is pushing the crisis scenario heavily in an effort to push the privatization option.
Thank goodness for Paul Krugman, who manages to cut through the hype to get to the bottom of issues like this, in column after column.
Krugman stands in stark contrast to some other "pundits," in particular the Times's Maureen Dowd, who drives me crazy with her insistence on ridiculing everyone and everything. We deserve better than her snide repartee.


I'll post again later. Haven't done my 15 minutes, but I need another wave of inspiration.