False Dilemmas in the Social Security Debate

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Written by CEPR   
Friday, 18 May 2012 15:20

Matt Miller, in a recent Washington Post column, talks about the need for a third party to change the boundaries of debate in politics. OK, but let's read a little more. One of his reasons includes "reallocating public resources from outsized projected spending on programs serving seniors to big investments in the future." Miller writes:

If you think we should not guarantee the next generation of retirees a 30 percent real increase in initial Social Security benefits (as we do today) before we’ve first guaranteed that every child in America has access to high-quality pre-schools and great teachers (in part by recruiting top college students to careers in the classroom and paying them up to $150,000 a year), which party represents your voice?

But why is it one or the other? As Dean Baker writes on Beat the Press, "Since workers pay for their Social Security benefits with a designated tax, his sentence makes no more sense than saying we should not pay interest on the government bonds held by wealthy people like Peter Peterson before guaranteeing decent eduction for our kids. Those of us familiar with the projections know that there is no reason that we cannot do both."