Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Game is Fixed

Excellent column by EJ Dionne in the WaPo on how the Republicans are fixing the game and recommending that its time for the Dems to just leave the table.

That the president is fixing the Social Security reform game should be obvious.

The game is also fixed because the president has narrowed the range of Social Security options to protect his most questionable policy choices.

Bush has refused to put his own tax cuts on the table as part of a Social Security fix. Repealing Bush's tax cuts for those earning more than $350,000 a year could cover all or most of the 75-year Social Security shortfall. Keeping part of the estate tax in place could cover a quarter to half of the shortfall. Some of the hole could be filled in by a modest surtax on dividends or capital gains.

But Bush is resolute about protecting the interests of the truly rich by making sure that any taxes on wealth are ruled out of the game from the beginning. The Social Security cuts he is proposing for the wealthy are a pittance compared with the benefits they get from his tax cuts. The president is keeping his eye on what really matters to him.

The real costs of progressive indexing as currently conceived would be paid by middle-income earners -- those with incomes in the range of $35,000 to $60,000 a year.

Eventually, such earners would face benefit cuts of 20 to 30 percent from what they are promised under the current program. And it gets worse:

Read the column to find out how.


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