What one of the Very Serious People thinks about how great it would be for Grandma to eat catfood
Charlie Cook is one of the most respected political commentators inside the Beltway Village. He's one of the Serious People, in other words. So of course, for him the highest civic virtue would be for Congress to make Grandma eat catfood.
In Do the Right ThingNational Journal 11/15/2010, he fantasized about the speech he would like to hear President Obama give justifying that noble goal:
The crushing federal debt and profound budgetary problems facing our country are the product of decisions by several generations of Democratic and Republican presidents and Congresses. [It's a bipartisan problem and blah, blah] But things have gotten much worse and we are now facing the fiscal equivalent of a train wreck.
And even though Social Security insurance is structured as a trust fund that has not been added to the federal deficit - the general fund has been borrowing from Social Security, actually, because it has been running a surplus for actuarial reasons - guess what the problem is!
My fellow Americans, for several generations we have been warned by a procession of business and governmental leaders that our country was on an unsustainable course. Quite simply for too long, the federal government has been spending too much, bringing in too little and making promises for Social Security and Medicare that in the long run it cannot keep. [my emphasis]
Yes, it's Grandpa and Grandma, those dang unproductive old people.
He liked the early report of the Catfood Commission in November, which recommends Social Security Phaseout just like the final report that was approved by a majority of the Commission in December, though not by the amount needed for a formal recommendation to Congress. Cook likes it because in addition to getting serious about making Grandma eat catfood, it meets the sacred Goldilocks principle of High Broderism:
The fact that people of both parties find so much to dislike suggests that this is not a plan that favors either side.
Alternatively, it could be that both sides complain about it because the whole things sucks. But it does include the all-important Social Security Phaseout, and that the only thing that matters, so surely "both parties" can agree on that and make David Broder and Charlie Cook happy.
Cook must have taken a double dose of Broder Juice before he wrote this. He fantasizes about bipartisanship like normal men fantasize about sex:
There is more than enough in the recommendations for any liberal to hate and plenty for any conservative to hate as well. But we have to stop thinking and acting as Democrats or Republicans, as liberals or conservatives. We need to start thinking as Americans; thinking of the national interest, putting aside our partisan and ideological differences, and thinking for once about the next generation of Americans and the crushing debt that we are leaving them.
And all that nasty debt, remember, is because the damn libruls the country has been "making promises for Social Security and Medicare that in the long run it cannot keep." The way it's going, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may last longer than the working lives of most people. Even after "both parties" raise the minimum retirement age to 83. And those both cost zillions of dollars, but we financed those by cutting taxes on billionaires, which always brings in more revenue, or improves the economy, or something, except when it doesn't. Then there's global warming, which already starting to wreak climate havoc, and those precious grandbabies will be stuck with that, and there's no point in them whining about it. But Social Security?!? No, we certainly can't leave that burden on future generations!
And there's more blather along the same lines. I'll just quote a little more:
It is thinking as liberals and Democrats, as conservatives and Republicans, that got us into this mess [blah, blah] ....
This is bitter medicine that no one likes. [blah ...] fiscal disease [blah, blah] threatens our future. There is plenty of pain for everyone in these recommendations, [bladdie blah blah] worth us all making sacrifices.
We need to keep our minds open and not declare some things to be untouchable. Almost every spending program and tax exemption is considered untouchable by some. If we let the ideologues, the partisans, and the special interests determine what is untouchable, nothing will be touched and we will be consigning future generations to an America that we ourselves wouldn’t want to live in.
We need to remember that the more pain and sacrifice we avoid now, the more our children and grandchildren will face in the future. If the right things were done 10 or 20 years ago, the solutions would have been relatively simple and not particularly painful. Now it requires cutting to the bone.
I know that embracing these recommendations [blah, blah and bladdie blah, blah]
I'd rather do the right thing and be a one-term president than shirk my responsibility and serve two terms. [bladdie blah, blah, blah] national interest. Think about the sacrifices that previous generations have been asked to make and made.
I am asking the leadership of the new Congress and several former leaders of Congress from both parties [blah, blah, blah, burp!] We need to roll up our sleeves and get it done. There is plenty of time for politics later. We need to be Americans first. [my emphasis]
It must make sense. Because Charlie Cook is a Very Serious Person.