Paul Krugman battles right-wing propaganda and finds a rare unicorn

Actual serious thinking on entitlements: "The economy is supposed to work for real people leading real lives"

By Salon Staff
Published April 10, 2015 10:24AM (EDT)
                                                                                                                                                                (AP Photo/ Francisco Seco)
(AP Photo/ Francisco Seco)

Washington is such a deeply unserious place that a politician can earn a reputation as a tough-talking centrist by wanting to "take on entitlements."

Never mind the fact that our entitlement programs actually work quite well and could be repaired well into the future with very simple fixes. And, never mind that the "tough talk" on entitlements tends to be backed-up by lobby groups eager to gut Social Security and eager to privatize it and get their hands on billions in new 401(k) fees. Don't look behind the curtain!

Democrats, more interested in Beltway credibility than taking an actual real stand -- and rarely interested in standing up to the GOP's propaganda -- tend to go along with talk of "grand bargains" on entitlements. But suddenly a handful of gutsy Democrats have realized that Social Security works, Social Security is popular -- and, hey, maybe a successful, well-liked government program is something to get behind and expand.

Paul Krugman praises those Democrats in his New York Times column today:

And in the real world of retirement, Social Security is a shining example of a system that works. It’s simple and clean, with low operating costs and minimal bureaucracy. It provides older Americans who worked hard all their lives with a chance of living decently in retirement, without requiring that they show an inhuman ability to think decades ahead and be investment whizzes as well. The only problem is that the decline of private pensions, and their replacement with inadequate 401(k)-type plans, has left a gap that Social Security isn’t currently big enough to fill. So why not make it bigger?

Why not indeed? Because of Washington's Orwellian newspeak, in which "serious" actually means posing as serious while actually ignoring the facts.

But true seriousness means looking at what works and what doesn’t. Privatized retirement schemes work very badly; Social Security works very well. And we should build on that success.

Read his entire column here.

Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Elizabeth Warren Entitlement Reform Paul Krugman Social Security