Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Brawlers, Cont.

This part of Ignatius' column seemed to rate a post of its own:

Pelosi and Reid rose to leadership positions during the hyper-partisan years of Republican control of Congress, and it shows. They are the people who refused to be Swift-boated, DeLay-ed or otherwise crushed by the Republican attack machine. They attacked back and were as vengeful as the Republicans.

Pelosi describes with relish her strategy for trouncing Bush's plan to privatize Social Security -- which was to blast it mercilessly, without offering an alternative. The implicit message is that negotiation and compromise are for losers. The reality that Social Security is facing bankruptcy seems not to interest either Pelosi or Reid.
Let's unpack this, shall we?

First of all, how did pundits like Ignatius react to the "hyper-partisan years of Republican control of Congress"? With barely a peep. With maybe a shrug and a "politics ain't beanbag" remark or two.

That's a reasonable position. Just don't get alarmist when Dems decide to play that way, too. (And especially when they haven't.)

Ignatius' sole example of Dem ruthlessness is Pelosi's approach to Social Security privatization: blast it, without offering an alternative.
1) This was a one-off. Despite its having been a smashing success, the Dems never went back to that well.
2) An alternative to what?? The Administration never offered up a plan of their own. Apparently that was A-OK with Ignatius.

Ignatius continues: "The reality that Social Security is facing bankruptcy seems not to interest either Pelosi or Reid."

Dear David: this is because Pelosi and Reid live in this reality, where, according to the CBO (h/t Hilzoy), "the 75-year actuarial imbalance in the program amounts to 0.38 percent of GDP, or 1.06 percent of taxable payroll." That's a pretty small imbalance over a 75-year horizon to get worked up about - which is why Pelosi and Reid aren't interested.

Especially when the date at which the Social Security reserves will be exhausted keeps on staying four decades away. In the 1990s, that date was in the 2030s, and now, in 2008, it's moved back to 2049. And even if those reserves get exhausted, benefits supportable by ongoing Social Security tax revenues will be greater, adjusted for inflation, than they are nOh yeow.

There ain't no Social Security crisis, except in the propaganda of the GOP and in the minds of the Beltway pundits. Dummies.

Finally, we can't neglect "They attacked back and were as vengeful as the Republicans."

Excuse me, David, but were you alive in the impeachment year of 1998? Did you miss the way the GOP trashed Max Cleland in 2002? Were you asleep in 2004 when the GOP turned John Kerry into a liar about his war record?

I'm trying to remember the last time the Dems trashed a GOP politician - not his positions, but his fundamental character - with a bunch of made-up stuff the way the GOP does to Dems routinely. Sure, politics ain't beanbag, but raising the alarm the first time the Dems throw an inside pitch, after the GOP has been plunking batters and throwing behind them all day, is just ridiculous. And is, unfortunately, par for the course for the Beltway pundit double standard.

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