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February 14, 2005

Whatever Happened to the Liberal Privatizers?

Mark Schmitt asks:

The Decembrist: Whatever Happened to the Liberal Privatizers?: It suddenly occurred to me that, in addition to the missing Democrats on the Hill, there was also a faction entirely missing from the public debate: the pro-privatization liberals.... Sam [Beard] had an exciting, 'everyone a millionaire' vision of Social Security, framing it in terms of opportunity, equality and wealth for the poor. I never thought that his numbers quite worked, but leaving that quaint concern aside, it was a hell of a more compelling vision for a low-income or African-American audience than Bush's offensive nonsense about how Social Security is a bad deal for black people because they die young. (A fact he seems to have no interest in changing.)...

If Bush were serious about passing something on Social Security, he would have started long ago with a list of not only the congressional potential 'faint-hearted faction,' but also liberals.... Why didn't they do it? One explanation is that more than actually enacting changes to Social Security, they wanted to set up the sharpest partisan contrast, even knowing that this was not something they could pass with only Republican votes. An alternative explanation: The Democrats who served on the Bush 2001 Social Security Commission were so offended at the way they were treated and in particular the way Senator Moynihan was treated that they know better than to get back into that bed with that crowd.

Well, consider me. As I have remarked, I ought to be a liberal privatizer. I genuinely believe that there is surplus to be gained by having Social Security invest in stocks, I think it is a scandal that the relatively poor don't have low-cost transparent equity savings vehicles available to them, I'm keenly interested in boosting national savings by any means possible, and I'm terrified of the long-run consequences of unbalanced federal budgets.

So why aren't I willing to be wooed by the Bushies?

It's because I have--finally--learned that no matter how good it sounds, what the Bushies deliver over and over again is another crock of s***. It's the Daniel Davies question:

Can anyone... give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:

  1. It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
  2. It was significant enough in scale that I'd have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
  3. It wasn't in some important way completely f***** up during the execution.

Posted by DeLong at February 14, 2005 07:43 PM