Friday, May 13, 2005
Social insurance, safety net or pension plan?: I'm just not sure which one of those three things New York Times columnist Paul Krugman believes Social Security to be -- it changes at least once a week.
Krugman's column in today's New York Times slams Wal-Mart for its low wages and laments the fact that Wal-Mart workers will depend heavily on Social Security.
What should be clear, however, is that the public safety net F.D.R. and L.B.J. created is more important than ever, now that workers in the world's richest nation can no longer count on the private sector to provide them with economic security.
When they reach 65, most Wal-Mart employees will rely heavily on Social Security - if the privatizers don't kill it. And many Wal-Mart employees already rely on Medicaid to pay for health care, especially for their children.
Indeed, a growing number of working Americans have turned to Medicaid. As the Kaiser Family Foundation points out, that's why children have for the most part have retained health coverage, despite a sharp decline in employer-based health insurance since 2000.
Yet our current political leaders are trying to privatize Social Security and reduce benefits. And they are slashing funds for Medicaid even as they give big tax cuts to people like Mr. Lee.
Let's leave Medicaid aside for now -- at least until Krugman reveals his hotly anticipated Social Security plan. Krugman complains that low-wage Wal-Mart workers will need Social Security more than CEOs. This is obvious. President Bush has proposed progressive-indexing of Social Security benefits (aka "means-testing") to ensure that the very Wal-Mart employees that Krugman pretends to care most about don't lose a dime.
Krugman and his do-nothing Democrat allies insist on a course which would culminate in those Wal-Mart workers who need Social Security the most facing a 25 to 30 percent benfit cut when the government program goes bust.
Two weeks ago, Social Security was a retirement plan, today it's a safety net. How convenient.