I grant that he did not do it at length or present a lot of clearly incorrect nonsense. But bash Social Security he did, using an old ruse to do so, combining it with Medicare to invoke a long term deficit danger due to the two of them together, when in fact it is well known that it is the Medicare part of that projection of future spending that leads to all the scary looking deficit numbers, not the Social Security part.
Most of the column by Robert J. Samuelson today, “Everybody’s mad at somebody,” is a lament about political polarization in the US today, and the obnoxious effect this has policy making. Fred Hiatt has a similar column, “Trump’s wasted opportunity,” although I would say that for once Hiatt avoided saying anything too silly, noting possible political compromises on a carbon tax, immigration policy, and tax reform, that might have been possible if Trump had been willing to be a nonpartisan leader, but that look unlikely to happen given his descent into cheap partisanship, as well as his general ignorance and incompetence. Most of Samualson’s column deals with past history of compromises made and how we got to not doing that anymore. However, his misguided statement on Social Security appears in a single paragraph, which I shall quote in its entirety now, regarding supposed compromises or issues that need compromising that are not likely to be.
“To take two familiar examples: The Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare while also reducing premiums and expanding coverage was never possible. It was make-believe. Similarly, the Democratic refusal to deal with the escalating costs of Medicare and Social Security is crushing other worthy government programs – a strange position for a pro-government party.”
So here is RJS back to playing the role of WaPo Very Wise Person, or whatever, calling for a compromise between the supposedly equally unwise positions of the two parties. But, the hard fact is that his analysis of the impossibility of the GOP position is completely accurate. He falls down when he gets to the Dem side. Again, there is a rising trend of medical care costs, which affects Medicaid as well as Medicare. If he had replaced Social Security with Medicaid, he would have been much more accurate, and clearly we need some sort of program to get rising medical care costs under control
But throwing in Social Security there instead of Medicaid (which the GOP is trying to cut without cost controls, just throw people off) as part of their Obamacare repeal and replace, muddies the waters, although it fits in with the longstanding campaign by the WaPo ed board to slash Social Security. And it does have RJS back on his regular Monday spot playing that old game, even if he did not make too much of a silly fuss about it this time. But some of us have our eyes on him, and will call him out when he pulls this nonsense, when we catch him. And he was at it again here.
BTW, Happy Fourth of July, you all.