Today, Matthew Yglesias couldn't be bothered to read an article in the Washington Post titled "Candidates Diverge on How to Save Social Security":
I think I'm afraid to read past the lede of that particular story.That didn't stop him from pressing forward to make backward assumptions and tendentious arguments to how McCain plans to "phase the program out" while Obama will "keep Social Security very much as it is." In fact, if Matt has made the Herculean effort to get to paragraph two, he would have found that McCain's proposal is as follows:
McCain's aides said he favors a bipartisan approach and is open to working with Congress on finding a solution to the long-term solvency of the New Deal-era program, indicating he could support an array of ideas such as raising the retirement age, reducing scheduled increases in benefits and allowing younger workers to put money they currently pay for Social Security taxes into personal savings accounts.[Emphasis added] Yglesias focuses solely on the personal accounts angle which, as the WashPost reports, is but one of the ideas McCain could support including the less-controversial proposals of raising the retirement age and slowing benefit growth, possibly by altering the indexing formula. McCain has ruled out raising taxes which have risen over time from 2% to 12.4% of payroll to the point where about 80% of Americans pay more in Social Security taxes than federal income tax.
On the other hand, Obama's plan will most definitely NOT "keep Social Security very much as it is." Obama's plan to impose an additional tax on income over $250,000 without providing for scaled benefits irreversibly alters Social Security from a universal flat tax system to another vehicle for wealth redistribution. That is changing FDR's vision for Social Security at it's most fundamental level and that's why Yglesias tries the old "Medicare is broker" bait-and-switch. Nice try, Charlie - you're wrong.
Extra - Here's Robert Samuelson with "The Candor Gap": "We could lighten the burden of aging by curbing government benefits for wealthier retirees and raising Social Security and Medicare eligibility ages to reflect longer life expectancies. These changes would move federal retirement programs back toward their original purpose -- a safety net for the most vulnerable."