Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

2/06/2005

Mark Dayton On Social Security: Three Tests

Today's Star Tribune published a column by Minnesota's senior senator...

Mark Dayton: Get real on Social Security changes

The article offers keen insight into the kind of thinking driving Senator Dayton regarding this issue. Dayton offers this:

...any proposal to change Social Security's present system should have to pass three tests:

• It must not reduce the amount of future revenues or their security.

• It must be likely to increase future retirement incomes.

• It cannot damage the rest of the federal government's financial foundation.

Let's attempt to parse these statements.

The first one states: "must not reduce the amount of future revenues," and this means what exactly? Government revenues? The things you and I call taxes? Or is he talking about what Social Security beneficiaries receive? If so, how can government possibly ensure an investment with that can only rise in value? Basic economics would tell you that kind of thing has a cost. What's the cost, Senator?

Then he adds: "or their security." So this only-ever-goes-up investment, suddenly becomes a guarantee. Again, the HOW would be more helpful here than simply stating this like Dorothy's wish to someday go over the rainbow.

Second comes: "It must be likely to increase future retirement incomes."

I would like to note that shortly prior to this in the same article, Dayton admits that under the present system:

"After 2042, payroll tax revenues would fund about 70 percent of promised benefits. However, those reduced benefits would be almost equal [emphasis mine - ed.] in value to the average payments retirees receive today."

Speaking as someone likely to be a retiree post 2042, once again I need a HOW here. Dayton admits the current system fails his own test. Yet not once in this article does he offer a solution leading the way to something "likely to increase future retirement incomes."

The final test Dayton offers is: "It cannot damage the rest of the federal government's financial foundation."

This one is rich. The federal government long ago decided to raid the Social Security piggy-bank to fund whatever Congress desired. This made Vice-President Gore's "lock box" a cornerstone of the federal government's financial foundation. So now my own generation is bound to treat Social Security like a game of Jenga; not daring to mishandle an important foundational piece for fear of upsetting the whole ponzi-like stack. Sorry, Senator. I'm not impressed with this rhetoric.

If Senator Dayton was a statesman, he would be offering a blueprint that would - at the very least - apply his own three tests of Social Security to reform the present system. Instead he uses them to make the current failed system frozen in government like a fly in amber.

Senator Dayton once again proves himself merely a reactionary; opposed to Social Security reform because his political opposition supports it.

I'll ignore the Senator's unsupported claims (and there are a lot in that article) regarding the president's own proposals. I will admit there are plenty of areas of concern, no matter which direction you approach SS reform from.

The difference is, the president and his party are opening a conversation which will seek new understanding and answers. Senator Dayton's article proves he intends to be little more than a speed-bump on any road to Social Security reform.

(Incidentally, hat-tip to The Kool-Aid Report for noticing this article. Their own comments about it are worth reading as well.)

- posted by Doug

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