Thursday, February 17, 2011

Matt Yglesias Confronts the Ugly Lie

The GOP is very good at convincing otherwise smart people to believe utter nonsense. Democrats, in contrast, are embarrassing bad at calling out this nonsense for what it is: lies.

Matt confronts a very popular GOP lie on Social Security:
For “you’re going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security” to count as an “ugly truth” assumes that it’s true. And yet it’s not true. Closing the projected actuarial gap in Social Security requires some combination of more immigration, higher taxes, and lower benefits. Relative to higher taxes, lower benefits tend to be preferred by richer people. And of all the different ways to reduce benefits, raising the retirement age is the one that does the most to punish the poor and demands the least sacrifice from the rich. Christie, it’s true, isn’t saying “whatever the voters want to hear” but he’s not telling the truth either. What he’s doing is saying what rich people want middle class people to believe.

The particularly confusing thing, though, isn’t that Christie lied but that I read in The Washington Post that Christie’s lie is the truth. Doubly confusing is that I read a Washington Post article a few months ago by Ezra Klein that laid this out pretty clearly describing a “conversation in Washington, where affluent people who like their jobs propose cutting benefits for the poor (which is, after all, what raising the retirement age would do) rather than lowering benefits or increasing the payroll tax on, well, themselves.”

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