February 03, 2005

We must destroy this safety net in order to save it

There's lots of stuff all over the blogosphere today about the unveiled Social Security plot plan; I'm not going to bother with the digest, you're all big girls and boys. Atrios, though, has what I consider the definitive smack-down of this nefarious scheme dumbass plan.

I was born in 1980; many of you were born right around that time as well. According to the lovely chart the CBO has provided for us, I am scheduled to receive $20.5k (in 2004 dollars) the first year I collect social security. Not great, of course, but better than nothing. And significantly better than the $13k total (social security + kinda-private account) I can expect from the Republican plan.

'But wait, Mister Smarty-pants Liberal Commie Fascist Pinko!' you might be saying, 'Dear Leader told us Social Security's going to be bankrupt, and you won't get that $20.5k anyways; $13.1k isn't great, that's true, but it's better than nothing!' That's where we look at the third column of the CBO chart: payable benefits. Assuming we don't do what we've done in the past and tweak the system to keep it running, I can still get $19.7k my first year on social security. That's roughly half as much again as what quasi-privatization is going to give me! And the younger you are, the more the system is going to screw you!

And that's not all! Not only will paid benefits be significantly smaller, but this system will cost a shitload more than the current one. Two reasons: transition and administration costs. This is a windfall of epic proportions for the private brokerages who will manage your semi-private account. Or it would be if the real goal of this plan wasn't to make the Social Security system so cumbersome and facile that it would be easier just to scrap it twenty years down the line. 'Starving the beast' was the way Milton Friedman, the free market messiah most of these supposedly pious Christians truly worship, put it.

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