Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Bush that Cried Wolf

Jan 20, 2005 7:47 am

The Bush that Cried Wolf

President Bush is counting on crisis-mongering to get his changes in Social Security accepted by the American people and passed by Congress. The problem is that the last time he engaged in crisis-mongering it turned out that there was no crisis. The search for WMD in Iraq was quietly ended recently. No stockpiles of weapons had been found. So why should anyone believe him when he says Social Security is headed for crisis? Projections for the program depend on soft factors: future rates of economic growth, increases in life expectancy, and so forth. Anyone can come up with almost any scenario. The U.S. economy is very large and getting larger. That's good, but it also means, unfortunately, it can absorb a lot of government intervention. I suspect that a jury-rigging of Social Security is possible into the distant future.

That doesn't mean the system shouldn't be abolished. But that was true the moment after FDR signed the bill 70 years ago. I have to agree with George Will (oh, horror!),"[T]he philosophic reasons for reforming Social Security are more compelling than the fiscal reasons."

Update: Cato is also deemphasizing the alleged financial crisis in favor of the property-rights case. See this article.

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M.D. Fulwiler - 1/20/2005

I hate the program as much as anyone, but the program is running a surplus until 2018. After that, they can "fix" it by a combination of tax increases and benefit cuts and by raiding general revenues. Unless the public turns against the system (we can hope!), they can almost certainly continue paying people ~something~ for 70 more years.