Sunday, January 16, 2005

The vacuity of bipartisanship: If pigs had wings 

There's a whole lot of blather in David Hackett Fischer's Op-Ed before we get to the bottom line, but I'll include just enough to give you the flavor:

What wonderful things we could do if Republicans and Democrats could dance together like Astaire and Rogers — even if some of us would have to dance backward.

Think what we might do if we could build on the bipartisan spirit of Inauguration Day, with these models as inspirations.

Bush's deep determination to take us toward partial privatization of Social Security would be an opportunity. The first step would be think about the problem in a larger context. Most of us have been saving for our old age in different ways. Together, we have accumulated a Social Security trust fund of about $2 trillion, private pension plans totaling $4 trillion and mutual funds approaching $8 trillion. It's a big system, diverse and already more than 75% privatized and 85% personalized. Private investment accounts in Social Security could be another step forward if we could take it without heaping a heavy burden of debt...

Wouldn't it be great if pigs had wings?

... on our children and grandchildren, and without shrinking benefits to seniors who desperately need them and without wrecking other social programs in the process. We could do all that if we work together in a more flexible way without ideological rigidity and party strife.
(via LA Times)

Yes, wouldn't it be great if pigs had wings? And if only we approached the pig-flying issue in a spirit of bi-partisanship, we'd be seeing pigs taking flight everywhere!

But, as Paul Krugman shows, the math doesn't work. The numbers don't add up. If the economy performs the way tnat it must for privatization advocates to make their stock market numbers, there's no danger at all to the Social Security trust fund.

But wouldn't it be great if pigs had wings?

And wouldn't it be great all Republicans had consciences?

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