Sunday, March 13, 2005

What Went Wrong with the Social Security Phase Out?

The Proposals to phase out Social Security that are being pushed by George W. Bush (GWB) were first developed by the Cato Institute and published in 1983 in a document called "Achieving a Leninist Strategy"(pdf).

Bob Brigham of There is No Crisis has an excellent article on how GWB has gone wrong in his effort to phase out Social Security. Since the Libertarians at the Cato institute think primarily in economic terms, they figured that by exempting seniors and those over age 55 from the changes in Social Security, they would raise no real opposition among that group with their proposals. Then all they had to do was fake the under age 30 group into paying for the massive costs involved in phasing out Social Security by promising them that they might get rich by investing their FICA taxes in the fly-by-night Cato scheme.

With their tin ear for real politics and real people, they blew it. The following is from Bob Brigham's article:

"By exempting Seniors from the privatization tax, Cato hoped to minimize opposition. But they forgot they were dealing with seniors, many from the Greatest Generation, who are primarily concerned with the economic security of their family. Altruism is a concept lost upon the libertarians, but is still alive and well in the hearts of the Greatest Generation.

"People at the twilight of their lives are focused on ensuring that their children and grandchildren are secure. Take from today's seniors all you want, they've seen worse days...but threaten to take from their grandkids and they strike fast and hard. This is an instinct, a human trait."

Nicer results couldn't happen to a nastier group of people than Bush and the Cato group.


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