Archive for July, 2010

Are Tax Expenditures the Deficit Commission’s Next Target?

If the deficit commission doesn’t attack entitlements, what will it cut instead? One alternative would be “tax expenditures” like the dependent care tax credit and the earned income tax credit. But cutting these would weaken Social Security and Medicare in indirect but very important ways. The redoubtable Martin Feldstein, Harvard professor, former Reagan advisor, and […]

Cutting Social Security: The Moral Equivalent of TARP

That seems to be the message that Neel Kashkari, who served as financial bailout czar in the waning years of the Bush Administration, was trying to convey in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post. TARP was “deeply unpopular.” It “betray[ed] our sense of fairness.” But once “people could feel the crisis,” it was clear that […]

A Modest Proposal for the “Catfood Commission”

What would the world be like if Social Security was privatized, or merely slashed and phased out? A satire by a French intellectual suggests what we might do with all those old people. Erskine Bowles, Alan Simpson, and their colleagues on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform might want to take note. Regis […]

No, Personal Savings Won’t Be Your Main Retirement Income!

It’s amazing how persistently certain elements of popular myth hang on: for example, in the pages of the Washington Post. A Sunday Post op-ed by retired NPR producer Jonathan Kern uses some tough love to convince feckless members of Generations X and Y (if not Z) that they need to “seriously bulk up savings,” now, […]

Behavioral Economics’ Wrong Message on Retirement

Trendy economics trains us to overlook the most obvious explanations to big problems in favor of subtler and perhaps just distracting alternatives. For instance, why don’t people save more for their retirement? Probably, because they just aren’t making enough money to save. But in the current political environment, a lot of economists find it easier […]

How the Public Really Thinks About Social Security

Just because the AmericaSpeaks “Our Budget, Our Economy” forum produced encouraging results are Social Security’s friends, doesn’t mean we should assume that deliberative forums like this one are a reliable tool for determining what the public really thinks about this issue – or any other. What do three high-profile, deficit-related projects – the National Commission […]

Feedback Loop

When pension benefits are cut overseas, it’s not just a sad sidelight to the Social Security wars in the U.S. It has a direct effect on the debate in this country. Greece is the latest to do so, joining Hungary, France, Italy, Germany, and others that have enacted or are considering such moves. You can […]

Robert N. Butler and the Battle for Social Security

Butler, who died Sunday at 83, was not just a distinguished scientist, author, and crusader for the elderly. He was the catalyst for one of the most powerful social movements of the last half-century – a movement that has widened access to health care in the U.S. and kept Social Security from being dismembered, among […]