Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Krugman vs. Brooks

Economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman:
The $600 Billion Man

The argument over Social Security privatization isn't about rival views on how to secure the program's future - even the administration admits that private accounts would do nothing to help the system's finances. It's a debate about what kind of society America should be.

And it's a debate Republicans appear to be losing, because the public doesn't share their view that it's a good idea to expose middle-class families...to even more risk. As soon as voters started to realize that private accounts would replace traditional Social Security benefits, not add to them, support for privatization collapsed.

But the Republicans' loss may not be the Democrats' gain, for two reasons. One is that some Democrats, in the name of centrism, echo Republican talking points. The other is that claims to be defending average families ring hollow when you defer to corporate interests on votes that matter.
Source: New York Times (Emphasis added.)

Counterpoint by NY Times Columnist David Brooks:

A Requiem for Reform
Published: March 15, 2005

...Having skimmed decades of private-account proposals, Republicans did not appreciate how unfamiliar this idea would seem to many people. They didn't appreciate how beloved Social Security is, and how much they would have to show they love it, too, before voters would trust them to reform it. In their efforts to create a risk-taking, dynamic society, (Republicans) didn't appreciate how many people, including conservatives, value security and safety.
Democratic blunders: The Democrats are still traumatized by their own losses. They are focused on past defeats, not future opportunities, and interested in revenge, not governing and accomplishment.
Source: New York Times (Emphasis added.)

To summarize: Paul Krugman observes that the middle class faces enough risks without playing roulette with one's "worst case" retirement nest egg. David Brooks thinks playing roulette with one's retirement nest egg "creates a dynamic society" and thinks Democrats are "failing to govern" by opposing a plan Paul Krugman calls fiscally irresponsible.

Seems to me the Democrats are exercising sound judgment and good governance by preventing the Republicans from piling on another few trillion in debt via their "privatization" boondoggle.


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