Here’s Hillary Clinton in the debate last night, responding to Obama’s proposal to raise the payroll cap for Social Security:
CLINTON: I do not want to fix the problems of Social Security on the backs of middle class families and seniors. If you lift the cap completely, that is a $1 trillion tax increase.
This is why my strategy is to hate all leaders, at all times, in all circumstances.
First, Obama uses right-wing talking points to tell us how we must be VERY VERY WORRIED about Social Security, so he can portray himself as a BOLD TRUTH TELLER.
Then, Clinton uses right-wing talking points to attack him for proposing a MASSIVE TAX INCREASE so she can portray herself as NOT A DIRTY TAX-RAISING LIBERAL.
In reality, there’s no reason to fret about Social Security or change it at all now. Obama is trying to scare us by thinking there is.
But if we have to change things in the future, the changes necessary would be minor. Clinton is trying to scare us by throwing around huge numbers most people don’t understand. The $1 trillion tax increase she’s talking about would be over 75 years, during which time the U.S. GDP is projected to be $600 trillion. It would also only affect the best-off people in America. (Moreover, Clinton’s numbers are wrong; eliminating the payroll cap would be more like a $4 trillion tax increase, depending on how you measure it. I suspect she lowballed it in order to make her fearmongering more credible.)
So hand in hand, Obama and Clinton each endorse one-half of the right-wing story, adding up to one gruesome whole. Here’s Sean Hannity, speaking to you during the recession of 2012:
HANNITY: How can you criticize Republican proposals to privatize Social Security, when even Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton agree we should be VERY VERY WORRIED and that the only alternative to privatization is a MASSIVE TAX INCREASE?
AND: This is yet another example of the Iron Law of Institutions.
(Thanks to Dean Baker for help with the specific numbers.)