I always feel like I’m falling into some sort of trap when I apply simple logic to conservative positions (which should not always be confused with solely Republican positions in the case of entitlements…some D’s get this wrong too). But the pull of common sense is just too strong!
Here’s the thing: it is logically indefensible to simultaneously maintain the following two positions:
1) We can no longer afford Social Security.
2) We can afford—nay, we must afford—the permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts.
Over to CBPP’s own Kathy Ruffing:
The revenue loss over the next 75 years from making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent would be two times the entire Social Security shortfall over that period. (See figure.) Indeed, the revenue loss just from extending the tax cuts for upper-income people would be more than two-thirds as large as the Social Security shortfall over the 75-year period.
Now, to be clear, Social Security is funded not through the taxes which feed into general revenues but through the Social Security Trust Fund. There are many ways to achieve trust fund solvency, some of which call for higher payroll taxes, such as increasing the maximum taxable salary level (raising that threshold to once again cover 90% of earnings would close about 30% of the 75-year shortfall in the trust fund).
But that larger point here is that assertions of what we can and can’t afford need to be considered from the perspective of the “asserter,” the winners, and the losers. No such assertions should ever be taken at face value.
OK, I’ll now quietly slip back into the tupsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass world of DC logic.