Thursday, September 02, 2010

Wherein I Register my Exasperation with the Folksy Alan Simpson

I really don't care that Alan Simpson used the word "tits" in his description of Social Security as a "milk cow with 310 million tits." Yeah, I realize that he was being jerkily provocative. He knew that his rough language would result in a satisfying amount of pearl-clutching, while meanwhile he could hide behind an ersatz farm-boy "well out in the barnyard that's how we pronounce 'teats'" line.

The plain truth is that Sen. Simpson has made a tidy post-Senate career out of fronting as a sort of affable country dumbass. In the mid-1990s, while he was cooling his post-DC jets at a Kennedy School sinecure here in the People's Republic of Cambridge, he even had a local TV show on WGBH with Robert Reich called "The Long and Short of It." Ha ha, see, because Simpson is very tall while Reich is very short.

Anyway, the long-term (i.e. 75-year) shortfall in SS amounts to 0.7% of GDP. Not exactly a huge item, compared to other recent liabilities taken on by the US Govt, including a couple of wars and two rounds of tax cuts for the wealthy in 2001 and 2003. In fact, it turns out that the long-term cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for the plus-$250K crowd is roughly equal to the long term shortfall in SS. So, allow tax rates to return to those ruinous Clinton-era levels for the top 3% or so, devote the resulting dough to SS, and bada-bing, SS "crisis" solved for another 75 YEARS.

Speaking of which... did you know that the US Defense budget is scheduled to "go bankrupt" in about one month? ONE MONTH! Geez, according to current polling I guess it's more likely that E.T. will be dispensing my Ham Squishee at the Quik-E-Mart than the Defense Dept. will be fully funded for FY2011.

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