walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Published on: January 30, 2013
Why Your Taxes Just Went up after the Obama Administration Said They Wouldn’t
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  • Jim.

    Cutting FICA without trimming Social Security benefits was always a bad idea, frankly.

    “I don’t know how or when this happened, but it was a mistake to let it happen.”

    It happened because it makes Social Security an act of national egalitarian solidarity — “No matter who you are, if you pay in, you get the same thing out, just like everyone else.” It might not have passed, otherwise, as a straight income redistribution program.

    That was an easy one. Ask us a tough one.

    By the way, if your father-in-law thinks it’s not fair that he’s paid Social Security, there’s absolutely nothing stopping him from giving that money to whatever charity he deems the most worthy.

    “how many age cohorts get grandfathered under the present system and how many younger cohorts don’t?”

    The only fair way to go? Don’t grandfather anyone in. People have known this was going to happen for decades, as you said — I defy you to come up with a definition of the word “fair” that covers Boomers keeping their own retirements sacred while the rest of us get screwed.

    We younger folks have time to prepare, you say? So we get to make cuts to our family budgets, perhaps even cut kids out of the picture (a bit of irony there, no?) while the Boomers could spend it on themselves (with Roe v. Wade becoming policy, my own birth cohort is well under 2.1). Then after we cut back, we have a smaller portion to look forward to when we retire?

    I’m waiting to hear how this is “fair”. I suspect I’ll be waiting long after the Boomers and all their good intentions have turned to dust and ash.

    “How do you explain to people just on the wrong side of the new phased-in threshold that they’re shit out of luck? And what politicians want to be the ones doing the explaining?”

    Actually, this is what Paul Ryan did when he said, “Anyone who’s 55 or older you can stop listening right now.” Ryan is the bravest person who understands budget math, and even he’s too much of a coward to take on the self-indulgent Boomers.

    —–

    All in all, good work with this one — now that you’ve prepared the ground, do an analysis of Medicare.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      You are mistaken that the Social Security program started out as a egalitarian redistribution program, and that it would not have passed otherwise. In the first FDR Administration the President could have done anything the Supreme Court did not find unconstitutional. The American social contract as understood at the time did not include egalitarian redistribution as a principle. The (mis)understanding of the program that exists today developed later, along with a great wash of mostly mindless, undifferentiated egalitarianism in other realms of American social life. Not to see that is to misunderstand the past half century and more of American social history.

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