Friday, February 18, 2005

Camel's Nose?

Finally, after many weeks of pressuring, George W. Bush said that, in the luminous fog of his Social Security "reform" plan, he's not ruled out raising the ceiling on FICA taxes. He's almost soundling like he could remotely be serious about shoring up the relatively minor problems in Social Security. But, he's still pushing private accounts, which makes one think he's not really serious about that.

The day after he says that maybe raising the FICA ceiling is ok, the AP puts out the folllowing story:

Social Security Tax May Mean More Money
Increasing Social Security taxes for the wealthiest Americans could raise more than $100 billion a year — enough to shore up the retirement system's finances for 75 years, pay for President Bush's plan for private accounts, or part of each


So now I see another way that Bush could gut Social Security in years to come. It could go something like this. Bush and his wealthy partisans willl say something like:

"Bush bent on increasing the FICA ceiling. That'll give us enough money to not only plug holes in Social Security for decades, but gives us enough revenue to take funds out of the trust and put it in private accounts."

"See, Bush paid for private -- I mean personal -- accounts! Let's do it!"

Of course, the road to private accounts will gut Social Security in the long run, and will still cost the government in fees, paying out benefits, disability and survivor benefits, paying out ersatz benefits from people whose "private accounts" fail. And, Bush will still have to cut benefits.

But it's a linguistic road to make all this lunacy seem reasonable.

Keep your eyes on the "FICA dividend." It will be rhetorically leveraged into all sorts of things it cannot economically support.

Still, it's a pig in a poke, just a poke a bit more gossamer than it was two days ago.

EDIT: I see that DeLay and Hastert are saying they'd consider a raise in the FICA ceiling a tax increase. That, of course, would be paying bills with actual money instead of fairy farts, so any increase is against Republican dogma.

And Kevin Drum has a few words that play off my thoughts.

1 comment:

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