Monday, August 18, 2008

The Obama Social Security backpeddle

If "backward biking" was an Olympic sport, Obama would've earned a top spot on the national team for his past-year performance with Social Security.

During the primaries he started at the finish line of reform -- recognizing a "crisis" in Social Security that had to be fixed, e.g:...
You know, Senator Clinton says that she's concerned about Social Security but is not willing to say how she would solve the Social Security crisis, then I think voters aren't going to feel real confident that this is a priority for her. [Nat'l Journ]
... with his "fix" being to tax the rich -- remove the cap on the wage base subject to the 12.4% Social Security tax. And his fans among the left netroots cheered!

Primaries won, Obama started peddling: By June his tax increase was adjusted to apply only to the very rich...
Sen. Barack Obama today plans to make a firm commitment to a Social Security tax hike on people making more than $250,000 a year, stepping away from an earlier plan he floated last year to boost the 12.4 percent payroll tax on all workers as a way of extending the program's solvency ... the adviser said there has been some confusion about his position and the campaign wanted to make it clear that he was embracing this option and setting aside the idea of boosting the payroll tax on everyone.
By July the "firm commitment" became not to a 12.4% tax, but for one of somewhere from 2% to 4% ... And in August it was revealed that the start date of his new tax to save Social Security would be "a decade or more from now" -- that is, sometime after the end of his presumptive second term.

And so he rocketed backward across the starting line of Social Security reform: promising nothing at all for more than 10 years.

An impressive performance! Though not without critics.

Meanwhile, Obama, standing tall at the start line, still shows his political courage by writing bravely anew about the importance of Saving Social Security! How he produces 579 words on the subject that say "I'll do nothing" is parsed by Andrew Biggs.