Friday, February 04, 2005

Fixing Social Security?

In a briefing before President Bush's State of the Union Address, a senior administration official said, "In a long-term sense, the personal accounts would have a net neutral effect on the fiscal situation of Social Security."

So how will privatization help fix Social Security? Paul Krugman's response made me laugh out loud:
Private accounts will at best have a "net neutral effect" - that is, they will do nothing to improve Social Security's finances. Mr. Bush says the system faces a crisis; what does he propose to do about it?

The answer, presumably, is that his plan will also involve major benefit cuts over and above those associated with private accounts. And it's true that you can improve Social Security's finances with privatization, as long as you also slash benefits - just as you can kill a flock of sheep with witchcraft, provided you also feed them arsenic.

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