The Cat Food Commission is strategic default by the rich
Kevin Drum (and how good it is to see an access blogger pointing this out under a Democratic adminstration*):
From a purely fiscal point of view, the Social Security trust fund is a fiction. But while this is true as a bare fact, the implications of this argument are pernicious and need to be vigorously confronted whenever they rear their head in public. Here's why, in the simplest possible terms.
Back in 1983, we made a deal. The deal was this: for 30 years poor people would overpay their taxes, building up the trust fund and helping lower the taxes of the rich. For the next 30 years, rich people would overpay their taxes, drawing down the trust fund and helping lower the taxes of the poor.1
Well, the first 30 years are about up. And now the rich are complaining about the deal that Alan Greenspan cut back in 1983. As it happens, I agree that it was a bad deal. If it were up to me, I'd fund Social Security out of current taxes and leave it at that. But it doesn't matter. Once the deal is made, you can't stop halfway through and toss it out. The rich got their subsidy for 30 years, and soon it's going to be time to raise their taxes and use it to subsidize the poor. Any other option would be an unconscionable fraud.
So what's your point, Kevin? Can you point me to some aspeect of our current political economy that isn't an unconscionable fraud?
1For a slightly more detailed version of this explanation, see here. Note that "poor" is actually shorthand for both the poor and the middle class, while "rich" actually means both the rich and the upper middle class. This distinction comes into play because payroll taxes, which have built up the trust fund for the past 30 years, are primarily paid by the poor and the middle class, while income taxes, which were kept artificially low over that same period and will soon need to raised in order to pay off the trust fund debt, are primarily paid by the rich and the upper middle class.
As so often, the killer detail is in the footnotes.
NOTE * Because when Bush wanted to gut Social Security, what we then laughingly called the "left" was all over it: WKJM, everybody; a daily drumbeat of coverage. Now, not so much, even though, from a policy perspective, it's all being driven by Pete Peterson and his ilk, no matter which legacy party appears to hold power.
UPDATE To his credit, Atrios weighs in. Now, every day please. First question: Why did Obama let Pete Peterson select the staffers for the Cat Food Commission, after first stacking it with wingers?