Friday, November 16, 2007

Krugman: Fighting the Last War

Paul Krugman bops Obama on the head today in a column titled Played for a Sucker:
Lately, Barack Obama has been saying that major action is needed to avert what he keeps calling a “crisis” in Social Security — most recently in an interview with The National Journal. Progressives who fought hard and successfully against the Bush administration’s attempt to panic America into privatizing the New Deal’s crown jewel are outraged, and rightly so.

The fear, expressed by others in the Lefty blogosphere, is that accepting the Right's framing of a Social Security crisis puts the program in mortal peril.

I know, Social Security -- even with growth projections well below the historical norm -- is going to be solvent for another couple of decades. I get it. But can we get real? Privatization failed. It didn't even get out of committee. It didn't come close to getting out of committee, and that was before the 2006 election. Liberals are so traumatized, so used to being abused, that they would rather keep clutching the orthodoxies they're used to rather than grabbing the advantage. And that is precisely what Obama is doing!

He has proposed raising the cap on Social Security income, making our most regressive tax a little more progressive. Is Hillary Clinton really being a better liberal because she punts on the issue and leaves it for a blue ribbon bipartisan committee to work out later? Is there a more progressive solution this committee might come up with? Raising the retirement age? Lowering benefits? Are those more progressive solutions?

We've got to stop acting like scared children about this. We won. Privatization is dead. Now... can we talk to people about our solutions to their problems?

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