Today’s sign that things really are bad: Democrats are talking about Social Security

The year: 2006. The State of the Union Address. President Bush began to scold congressional Democrats for refusing to consider changes to a badly unbalanced Social Security program.

He said:

“Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security…”

And the Democrats interrupted…with cheers! They leaped from their seats, applauding the fact that Social Security’s insolvency and the enslavement of future generations to pay that insolvency off had been preserved once again!

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Fast forward to…well, just a few days ago. President Obama’s “Deficit Reduction Commission” is, we’re told, seriously considering Social Security benefit cuts.

Commission members have declined to say what options they are considering, repeating the Obama mantra that everything is “on the table.” But options for Social Security are no secret: In addition to boosting taxes, the lengthy list includes raising the retirement age for people now in middle age and trimming benefits for the wealthy.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), a vocal supporter of the commission’s goals, said he is advising rank-and-file Democrats not to dismiss any of those ideas as the campaign season gets into full swing.

“My advice to members is: Do not sign yourself into a corner,” said Hoyer, who has been candid about the ugly choices involved in rebalancing the budget. “That’s not because anybody intends to cut the benefits of any Social Security recipient today or tomorrow. But given the magnitude of the problems that confront us, do not limit your options.”

“Do not limit your options.” That’s good advice, really. It might have been even better advice, back before the situation was quite this dire. Back in 2005, for example, when there was an honest push to make some kind of change. Or back in 1979, when Milton Friedman wrote:

The long-run financial problems of Social Security stem from one simple fact: the number of people receiving payments from the system has increased and will continue to increase faster than the number of workers on whose wages taxes can be levied to finance those payments. In 1950 seventeen persons were employed for every person receiving benefits; by 1970 only three; by early in the twenty-first century, if present trends continue, at most two will be.

It’s not like we haven’t known. We have. For decades. And, when a significant portion of the Republican Party was finally ready to do something about it…

…well, you know. There was a pandering opportunity, and instead of taking the hard-but-necessary road, Democrats pandered. That’s the nature of politics in America, too.

Future be damned.

The TrogloPundit

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