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September 4, 2006
Casey: Social Security Just Fine

Robert Casey Jr took on Rick Santorum in a debate for the upcoming general election, and the Democratic challenger shows that he has more studying to do before the big final. Even Tim Russert couldn't believe Casey's prescription for Social Security's ills was to "do nothing":

"I don't think you're talking about a crisis," the Democrat said during an hourlong debate yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Mr. Casey said the program -- raided for years by federal lawmakers to pay for other government programs -- will fix itself.

"So [we'll have] double the people on Social Security and Medicare, and life expectancy approaches 80. And the solution is 'do nothing'?" moderator Tim Russert asked.

Mr. Casey suggested reinstating the estate tax and then hoping for a booming economy to "grow" the program out of the peril that actuarial tables and demographics predict.

"You want to grow the economy by increasing taxes?" scoffed Mr. Santorum, sitting next to him. "So, he's saying we have to grow the economy so we're going to take more out of it. That's a great way to grow the economy."

That's easily one of the most incoherent statements on entitlement reform we've heard since George Bush attempted Social Security reform in 2005. Democrats have offered three different reactions at different times to this effort, trying to scare people into thinking change was an unreasonable Republican push to strip seniors of their benefits. They have pretended that the problem doesn't exist; they have pledged to raise taxes to cover the shortfall; and they have minimized the pending economic disaster by saying that the economy will grow enough to cover the shortfall.

Casey is the first Democrat in my experience to offer all three at the same time. It's as though he had all of the Democratic talking points in front of him at the podium and decided to use the shotgun approach and hoped to hit the bulls-eye. He hit another part of the bull on this question, and Russert rightly called him on it.

Social Security will run out of funds before most of us reach the point where we can start receiving benefits. That's why the crisis is upon us now; the vast majority of Americans keep sending contributions to a Ponzi scheme that will have paid off its last recipient, under the rules today, well before our turn comes up. Increasing longevity, escalations of benefits, and the baby boom have brought us from sixteen workers per Social Security recipient to less than three workers per recipient today. Once the generation of Bill Clinton and George Bush start getting benefits -- and that starts next year -- the find will undergo a rapid decline.

The time to fix Social Security is now, when we can leverage a fund that still technically operates in the black and when we can still provide stable benefits to current recipients as part of that reform. Politicians like Bob Casey want to pretend that nothing's wrong with ballooning entitlements until the bill comes due -- and then he wants to stick us with it. Casey needs to ditch the talking points and start doing some of his own thinking, or he needs to find another line of work.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 4, 2006 8:27 AM

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» Meet the Press Commentary #5 (The Blogs) from SantorumBlog
From the left… Nasty Little Man gives a list of answers Bob Casey should have given. Middle-ish Regular Guy writes about the Plan B debate… The stupidest, least-effective strategy for Republican to use in getting elected is to adopt liberal... [Read More]

Tracked on September 4, 2006 10:14 AM

» Rick Santorum Watch: Casey and Santorum Debate on Meet the Press from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
In this photograph provided by ‘Meet the Press,’ Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., left, and his Democratic Senate challenger Bob Casey debate during the taping of ‘Meet the Press'’ Sunday, Sept. 3, 2006, at the NBC studios in Washing... [Read More]

Tracked on September 4, 2006 1:20 PM


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