A job for Hillary.

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 5 2006 5:33 AM

A Job For Hillary

Plus--Shorter summer.

(Continued from Page 9)

What makes the car alive is for it to be responsive, animate. ... There has to be more of a message than 'I'm beautiful, I'm powerful, I'm sexy'.

Bangle saying there's more to car design than beauty is the equivalent of Klein saying there's more to TV than ratings. They better hope so! [Where's Burkle?-ed He comes up here. ... ] 9:32 P.M.

Edward Luttwak notes that  

6,821 Americans ...died to conquer the eight square miles of Iwo Jima.

That's more than twice the number of Americans who've died  in the entire Iraq war. ... [Rationalization?-ed Perspective.] 7:15 P.M. 

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A Neolib New Deal? Josh Marshall writes  

A week ago I did a Blogginheads segment with Mickey Kaus and he brought up his long held belief that Dems should cut their losses on social insurance programs like Social Security to build up political chits with GOPers and extra revenue for universal health care. But I don't think it works that way. And I think the 1990s are the prime example. Give up on Social Security and that undermines progressive reform on every front. It's not a matter of coalition politics. It's that every win galvanizes and strengthens progressive reform as a whole.

Josh misunderstood my position, which maybe I didn't make clear on Bloggingheads. I'm not for cutting Social Security now to "build up political chits with GOPers." I agree those chits would not likely be either recognized or honored. And I have nothing, in the abstract, against the current "universal" Social Security  system that sends pension checks to rich and poor alike.

It's just that a "universal" Social Security system costs hundreds of billions of dollars more than, say,  a "means tested" system that doesn't send checks to the richest 25% of retirees. And I don't think Democrats will be able to afford botha) that expensive universal Social Security system and b) the national health care program they will rightly want. 'Defending' Social Security and achieving a decent health care system is less likely to 'galvanize and strengthen progressive reform as a whole' than it is to either bankrupt the government or require a larger tax burden than citizens are willing to bear.

If that's true, then at some point Democrats will have to choose, and I hope they choose (b). There are several scenarios under which they might effectively make that choice--a grand bargain, in which the Dems say "you give us national health insurance and we'll agree to a radical means test for Social Security" is only one of them. A much more likely sequence would involve Democrats first passing national health insurance on the basis of a bunch of rosy cost projections, and then discovering that the budget is veering way out of balance--with the resulting crisis being resolved by big cuts in Social Security. (That's basically the way Australia found its way to a Social Security means test, as I understand it.)

In any case, it makes little sense to cut Social Security this year, when national health insurance isn't even on Congress' plate, in the mere hope that the money saved will one day be available for health care. (It's much more likely to be pissed away on other Democratic and Republican projects.) I opposed the Bush Social Security plan (see this 2004 piece). Not that Democrats were crazy to disagree with that position. If you actually want to preserve the current "universal" checks-to-the-rich Social Security regime--as most doctrinaire Dems say they do--a deal with Bush (in which he took the heat for necessary mild increases in the retirement age, etc. in exchange for a fig leaf of semi-privatization) might actually make sense, as Michael Kinsley argued. I don't think Joe Lieberman should be read out of the party for flirting with a Kinsleyesque position, which was my vlog argument against Josh.