A death in the family has thrown me back off track before I was even on it, so blogging will be variable for a week or so. I have lots that I need to vent about regarding Social Security (even though I’m unlikely to claim it), but for now I just want to set the scene and give myself a reminder for the main issue I’d like to explore.
First the scene-setting. I’m not opposed in principle to changes in Social Security. I think it is a good social insurance program that has strayed away from that aim, mainly by becoming bigger than it needs to be. So there is an essential core that we need to keep, but changes could certainly be much more significant that tinkering at the margins. My favorite idea would be a means-testing element that would limit who received payouts, would likely remove the need for other reforms, and (without having the numbers to back this up) could well allow for cuts in payroll taxes. I’ll expand on this idea later. On to the issue that’s really puzzling me about this.
If I’ve read my indoctrination worksheet correctly, I believe that Republicans = small government. Reducing the importance of Social Security would seem to fall under that banner, so I would expect Republicans to want to get rid of it. What my indoctrination sheet from the right doesn’t mention is that the Republicans are the toadying to big business party (I got that bit from the Democratic indoctrination sheet). Whether the Bush plan for Social Security is a good idea or not, what it explicitly does not do is significantly reduce the role of government; the amount I save is still mandated by law, the choices around my saving are mandated by law (though clearly more varied than the no-choice I have now), and what happens to the money when I retire is tightly controlled. In the absence of meaningful deregulation, therefore, I have to conclude at the moment that this is just a way for the Republicans to suck up to somebody. I’ll do some thinking about who for next time.