Friday :: Feb 25, 2005

Your Table Is Ready, Tom Frank


by rayman

Yesterday I mentioned how the right-wing plutocrats, realizing that their decades-long dream of dismantling Social Security is faltering, have resorted to the Ol' Reliable; namely, sleazy liberal-baiting. Anyway, Paul Krugman fleshes out this point today:

In Mr. Frank's view, this is a confidence trick: politicians like Mr. Santorum trumpet their defense of traditional values, but their true loyalty is to elitist economic policies. "Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. ... Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization." But it keeps working.

And this week we saw Mr. Frank's thesis acted out so crudely that it was as if someone had deliberately staged it. The right wants to dismantle Social Security, a successful program that is a pillar of stability for working Americans. AARP stands in the way. So without a moment's hesitation, the usual suspects declared that this organization of staid seniors is actually an anti-soldier, pro-gay-marriage leftist front.

It's tempting to dismiss this as an exceptional case in which right-wingers, unable to come up with a real cultural grievance to exploit, fabricated one out of thin air. But such fabrications are the rule, not the exception.

Speaking of Frank, he offers some illuminating comments in today's Salon article detailing the Social Security bait-and-switch perpetrated on the Red State proletariat:
But when it comes to Social Security reform, Frank argues, the White House and other Republican leaders may be willing to pay any price. Social Security is, after all, the linchpin of the American welfare state, the most popular and well-regarded entitlement program. By privatizing it, Republicans will achieve a long-standing ideological goal. They'll be fundamentally altering the government's responsibility to its citizens, profoundly realigning the nation in favor of the stock-market-invested rich and against the interests of the poor. As Frank says, they'll be repealing the New Deal -- and such a grand mission, they may feel, might be worth losing a few elections over.

"The leadership and the big thinkers don't care that this is going to be an extremely disastrous issue 10 years from now," Frank says. "They think they can get out of bearing the consequences of anything with some slick talk. After all, nobody blames Reagan for budget deficits anymore. And here, you're talking about such an enormous change, it will be impossible for Democrats to put it back the way it was. It's such a huge change that it will be permanent; they can't put it back once it's done."

I question whether Republicans in general are actually willing to engage in this political hari-kari solely for the purpose of eliminating the "underbelly" of the New Deal, as Stephen Moore refers to it. On the other hand, I have no doubt the White House is more than willing to do this, given that Bush will be safely ensconced in his Crawford compound when the proverbial excrement hits the fan. Fun times, eh?

rayman :: 7:17 AM :: Comments (17) :: Digg It!