The Curse of the Cubic Zirconia

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 20 2004 3:09 AM

The Curse of the Cubic Zirconia

Baubles and Bangle too.

(Continued from Page 5)

*** When defending Clinton, Toobin ludicrously declared that a politician's sex life "tells you absolutely nothing about their performance" in office. Marc Rich might disagree. ...  12:21 P.M.

kausfiles Seeks Common Ground!  I don't trust either David Brooks' knowledge of Social Security or my own, but I suspect Brooks is right that a "grand bargain" is there to be struck between Democrats and Republicans--a bargain that includes "personal accounts." Why? Because Democrats haven't been averse to creating private accounts for today's young workers as long as it's done on top of a solvent regular pay-as-you-go Social Security system that provides a basic floor of guaranteed benefits. (President Clinton called his proposed "add-on" private accounts "USA Accounts.") And because Republicans still have to do something--cutting benefits or raising revenues--to fix the imbalance in the regular Social Security system for current, baby boomer retirees (who aren't young enough to think about substituting private accounts for regular Social Security). ...

Suppose centrist Democrats did what was necessary to fix regular ol' Social Security, and then did what was necessary to create add-on private accounts. Would the result look all that different from what the Bush plan will actually look like (benefit cuts and all) when the president finally gets around to giving us the details? ...

But, you say, Democrats would surely object to any Bushian system that would let today's young workers live in poverty in their retirement years if their private accounts were invested unluckily and went blooey--Dems would insist on today's Social Security benefits as a minimum guarantee. And so they should! But couldn't that floor could be provided by a stringently means-tested old-style Social Security system--one that gave full guaranteed benefits only to seniors who really needed them? The idea would be to prevent future seniors who misinvested their private accounts from living in poverty, right--not to give back rich future seniors who misinvested their accounts full benefits to make up for their (non-impoverishing) loss. ...

Now take that means-testing principle and (gently) apply it ahead of schedule to today's baby boomers as well, to the extent needed to 1) render the regular Social Security system solvent and 2) free up money for add-on private accounts. Presto--a compromise with a) private accounts and b) a guaranteed Social Security income floor. ...

The only thing Republicans would give up, as far as I can see, is the "choice" element--the idea that young workers who opt for private accounts voluntarily, in exchange, give up the regular Social Security benefits now promised them. Under the compromise envisioned here, everyone would get the same means-tested Social Security benefits and everyone would get the same add-on private accounts. But since many Bush-style private account plans--including two of the three "models" suggested by the president's recent commission--also feature government-guaranteed benefit "floors" (even for those who "choose" private accounts) maybe this distinction is largely academic. 

I must be missing something again... 4:09 A.M.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

If you paid real money for the L.A. Times, we have a word for you: "Sucker"! Kf readers email with more evidence of the LAT's near-desperate near-free distribution policy: ...

I just subscribed for LA Times for 2$ a week for A YEAR. This was after I
had tried to cancel my subscrtiption ..." --reader S.

"I subscribed to a full 52 weeks of Saturday and Sunday delivery to the LA Times for a $5 add-on to my Wired magazine renewal---and I didn't have to give my phone number ... " --reader C.

2:05 P.M.

TODAY IN SLATE

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How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

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