Friday, February 23, 2007


I was joking about having anything to do with Vilsack dropping out, of course, but it got me thinking about why Social Security has such resonance in left blogistan.

There are two main issues where left blogistan got it right - the Iraq War and Social Security. We lost the first fight, failing to prevent a war, and won the second one. On both those issues the Elite Consensus was completely wrong, and we were right. For Social Security, we were right not just on the merits, on the policy, on the politics, but also on the tactics. Even aside from the various ways which bloggers helped to put the pressure on the media and on the politicians, a fundamental strategic principle was that it was a colossally stupid mistake for Democrats to take the bait and come out with their "own plan," something every pundit in Washington "knew" they had to do. Fortunately, now-Speaker Pelosi agreed with us and helped to make sure it happened that way.

Last March, Reid persuaded more than 40 Democratic senators to oppose privatization, assuring Democrats of the number they'd need to sustain a filibuster. Pelosi had fewer procedural tools but no less commitment to the cause. One Pelosi aide recalls her giving the same curt response to several colleagues who asked when the party's Social Security plan would be released: "Never. Does never work for you?"

There were a variety of reasons this was an important strategy, but a main one is that doing so would implicitly buy in to the Elite Consensus's "Social Security is in Crisis" assumption. As we pointed out, There Is No Crisis.

Going forward, it's important to put a marker down that no politician who buys into this "crisis" frame should get any support. That isn't to say we can't have a sensible discussion about possibly tweaking and improving Social Security, but that discussion should be divorced from the dishonest assertion that it needs adjustments because of long run fiscal problems.