Obama Asked About The Social Security “Crisis”

The Iowa Independent has a brief interview with Barack Obama. He was asked about Paul Krugman’s recent columns attacking him for raising Social Security. In his columns Krugman has mischaracterized Obama’s position on Social Security by trying to lump together anyone who raises concern for its long term viability with Republicans who use the program’s problems as justification for privatization. Obama’s response:

I’m familiar with Paul’s arguments.I have said that this is a long-term problem. I’ve never suggested that this is somehow a crisis in the same way that George Bush argues with privatization.  There is a long-term problem demographically because the Baby Boom generation is retiring. It’s just common sense. The Social Security actuaries said the same thing. Bill Clinton said the same thing in 1998. I suspect that Paul Krugman in the past has acknowledged as much as well. And what I’ve simply said is that we should deal with it sooner rather than later. The longer we delay solving it, the harder it’s going to be solve, the more costly it’s going to be for future generations. Part of my message in running is that we have to start taking responsibility now for solving these problems instead of kicking the can down the road.

That sounds perfectly reasonable. Yes, some Republicans do exaggerate the problems for political purposes. That does not mean that the inevitable problems which will be created by demographic changes should be ignored. In his recent writings Krugman increasingly sounds like the far right Republicans. Krugman argues for different positions, but shares their practice of only considering one set of extreme views while dismissing all other opinions. We don’t need that mindset from the left any more than from the right.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    The Charters Of Dreams says:

    Well you *might* not have to privatization SS, but don’t the problems with SS are exaggerated — it IS a rapidly looming crisis. Consider this news headline today:

    Moody’s says spending threatens US rating: “The combination of the medical programmes and social security is the most important threat to the triple-A rating over the long term,” it said

    Economists of all political hues have long been cautioning policymakers that the U.S. government’s entitlement programs are excessively profligate. Their spending commitments are so starkly out of line with available resources that they threaten to unravel the U.S. economy. Despite near unanimity among budget analysts about the urgent need for restructuring entitlement programs, lawmakers in Congress remain deadlocked on the best course of action.

    And don’t think the repeal of Bush’s taxes cuts will even things out

    All the Democratic presidential candidates appear to agree that taxes must go up: 1st) that’s likely throw the U.S. into a serious resession in 2011:

    Deficits are often used as reason for higher taxes, such as in 1993 and 1982. But to believe in higher taxes as sound economic policy in coming years, you also have to believe in the CBO’s cheery forecast that hundreds of billion of dollars in new taxes will have little or no effect on economic growth. Now you don’t have to be an acolyte of supply-side guru Arthur Laffer to find that sort of “static analysis” a little weird. Most Americans probably would. So, apparently, did the economic team at Goldman Sachs, the old employer of Robert Rubin, President Bill Clinton’s second treasury secretary. Thus the firm’s econ wonks decided to try and simulate the real-world effect of letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010. Using the respected Washington University Macro Model, Goldman reset the tax code to its pre-Bush status, assumed all tax cuts expired, and watched how the economy reacted as 2011 began. What did the firm see? Well, in the first quarter of 2011 the economy dropped 3 percentage points below what it would have been otherwise. “Absent a tailwind to growth from some other source,” the analysis concludes, “this would almost surely mark the onset of a recession.” (quote by James Pethokoukis, Senior Writer at US News & World Report)

    2nd) The Democrates say they want to repeal the tax cuts (and they do), but they want to remain in power ever more. Remember when Bill Clinton promised tax cuts in 1992 and then supported increases? Democrats in Congress supported Clinton’s tax hikes just as they had voted for the 1990 tax increases.

    The result? Democrats lost almost one-quarter (63 seats) of their House caucus in the elections for the 103rd and 104th Congress. The Republican president that proposed the 1990 increases lost two years later.

    The current group of Democratic presidential contenders may have forgotten this history lesson. I suspect congressional Democrats running next year will remember it.

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