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The New Triumphalism

A friend emails:

I think you bloggers on the left need to start celebrating as the great blogger achievement getting everyone to realize that privitization won't solve Social Security's finances which I think actually is happening partially thanks to you guys and so displace the whole AWOL memos meme.
I think that's right. The blogosphere's liberals have thus far done a poor job of creating an automythology of our awesomeness and influence. But I think we have impacted the Social Security debate in a number of ways. Dean Baker's been pointing out that the Social Security crisis is phony for years, but nobody paid him the attention he deserves until the internets began to amplify his message. Then there's the point my friend made. Needless to say, Paul Krugman also plays an important role here, but he's a known blog reader as well....

February 4, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

The blogs have also advanced the idea that benefit cuts are needed, so good job. A reduction in the growth rates is a good place to start and I'm glad people like Kevin Drum have proposed it.

Posted by: Chad | Feb 4, 2005 10:26:58 AM

This signals the end of the MSM and the Right. All hail the mightly liberal blogger!

Posted by: Drew | Feb 4, 2005 10:30:44 AM

Shouldn't we wait for the triumph before we start getting all triumphal? (I admit I may not understand how triumphalism is supposed to work.)

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Feb 4, 2005 10:41:24 AM

Paul, all you have to do is claim vicotry even if what you stated turns out to be completely false. Call it the Drudge Rule.

And Chad, actually blogs have shown benefits don't need to be cut.

Posted by: Rob | Feb 4, 2005 10:52:15 AM

Bush proposed a radical change to the most sacred of cows, the SS system. If there weren't a blog in sight, the plan would be in deep trouble, and the Dems, AARP, etc. would nonetheless be babbling that privatization won't solve SS's finances, and that in fact privatization will kill the cow that all the old people are depending on to feed them in their old age.

So pat yourself on your back all you want, Canute.

Posted by: ostap | Feb 4, 2005 10:58:33 AM

It is because of bloggers like Matthew Yglesias that Social Security has been saved. I can only be thankful MY is using his powers for good and not for evil.

Posted by: Dan the Man | Feb 4, 2005 11:04:01 AM

How many times can one use the plural form "internets" ironically before it becomes standard usage? On a related note, is "misunderestimate" in the dictionary yet?

Posted by: Grumpy | Feb 4, 2005 11:04:30 AM

What was Ostap trying to say? And it's spelled Knut, dude. England was a Norwegian province then.

It looks to me that the SS battle will be won, and yes indeed, blogs helped get the word out. However, this is hardly a triumph to be proud of. It's sort of as if Robert E. Lee had rolled through the North right up to Boston, but had failed to take Boston. There's really nothing more basic to the Democratic Party, to say nothing of liberalism, than Social Security. And a completely fraudulent attack, uncorrected by the MSM and backed by an army of apparatchiks and fanatics, almost took Social Security down. This was a last-ditch effort.

Posted by: John Emerson | Feb 4, 2005 11:09:23 AM

I think the right has actually been extremely successful in pushing their message.
Young people believe that Social Security may not be there when they are gone. They have only a vague sense of why (if enough of them are obsequious enough to believe that it can just be unpromised).
The idea that the government can default on its debt is no longer an unimaginable. I think the right wants to push this as a way to get people to not rely on the protections of the government, I think they are underestimating the profound effects this can have in undermining the stability of the system (Question to the economists out there -- Assuming that all economic agents out their recognize that the current economic path is unsustainable [current account, general fund trends, etc], how much is the economy losing just from the effect of uncertainty about when and how those adjustments back to sustainable trends will be made?)
Before getting triuphant about thwarting Bush from raiding the SS Trust fund, we should 1) Make sure he doesn't, and step back and think about how inconceivable a default would have been in the past. We are losing this war.

The policy solutions that should be obvious would be to peg benefits to data, and to set up a new SS Fed - accuse them of making wild predictions about the economy in 75 years, setting up a system that adjusts with actual data.

Posted by: theCoach | Feb 4, 2005 11:15:54 AM

"How many times can one use the plural form "internets" ironically before it becomes standard usage? On a related note, is "misunderestimate" in the dictionary yet?"

A vaguely related question: does anyone except the faux-bubba say "TV screens", vs. just "TV", or "October the third", vs. "October third"?

Posted by: Ken C. | Feb 4, 2005 11:20:48 AM

With the bad bad jobs report this morning combined with yesterday's productivity decline the economy is lookin poorly. The opportunity to kill dead the "tax cuts create jobs and growth" myth is getting closer.

Republicans are desperate to find some money somewhere. It is not in the discretionary or defense budgets. They need those trillions, and will fight not as if the existence of the party is at stake, but because the existence of the party may actually be at stake. This is just beginning.

Some Republican in comments here talked of selling Yellowstone. Take that seriously, they will be that desperate. The economic chickens are coming home.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 4, 2005 11:39:10 AM

I'm just curious what we are going to cut from the Federal budget in 2018 to pay for the Social Security deficit...

Regarding the "current account deficit," it will stay with us as long as there is a "capital account surplus." As long as foreigners make US capital investments, we'll be able to pay for the current account deficit. With the US growing at 1% to 2% faster than other major players (Japan, France, Germany, etc.) we'll probably be OK.

Of course, with India and China growing at 7%-10%, it is only a matter of time before investing in their economies become better than investments in US capital. Then, guess what, no more current account deficit to worry about!

Current account deficits are not a disease, they are a symptom of a good economy that attracts investment.

Posted by: Mr. Econotarian | Feb 4, 2005 12:03:39 PM

"Current account deficits are not a disease, they are a symptom of a good economy that attracts investment."

The Chinese are not buying or building factories in the US, nor are they financing capital investments. They are lending us money to cover overhead and keep our head above water.

All account deficits are not equal.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 4, 2005 12:25:58 PM

Mr. Econotarian,
your account of the current account is at best misleading. Bob McManus has it right. The problem is that the current account is out of balance enough that a correction could come too quickly, causing disruptions.

Posted by: theCoach | Feb 4, 2005 12:30:12 PM

This is the current liberal thinking via Andrew Tobias today:

"Here is the sort of thing that would be involved. Judge for yourself:

1. Continue to allow early retirement at 62, but warn today’s kids that, 40 years from now, instead of retiring with full benefits at 67, as currently planned, it would be 68.

2. Drop the 6.2% retirement payroll tax down not to zero on pay above $90,000, as we do now, but to 1%.

3. Use the more generous “wage inflation” formula on the first $30,000 or $40,000 of a worker’s income, but use the less generous “cost inflation” calculation on the rest.

If we did these three things, the “crisis” – which is not a crisis – would be over.

Or we could fail to do them, in which case today’s young workers would be more strongly advised than ever to save for their retirements, because – although they could expect to get from Social Security more than retirees get today (adjusted for price inflation) – they would get less than the current formula promises (because it promises to adjust their initial benefits for wage inflation)."

Bush is going to continue to use private accounts, eliminate #2, get benefit cuts and claim victory.

Posted by: Chad | Feb 4, 2005 12:39:41 PM

Isn't this better handled by our 401k's?

Posted by: judson | Feb 4, 2005 2:07:24 PM

I think kudos for the torpedoing of the Bush scheme are indeed due to the lefty bloggers and to Krugman.

Posted by: Bob H | Feb 4, 2005 2:20:04 PM

"Blogdor The Burninator"

Posted by: yesh | Feb 4, 2005 2:29:09 PM

If the conservatives win this debate using the godaweful flimsy evidence to support their case for privitization, I might just quit caring. Seriously, if the Dems can't pull this off with the solid evidence and the public support on their side, it is of no hope.

Question: When do we declare victory? MY said that while the debate is essentially over before it has started, he said we really should try to fight this one legislatively. I agree. Make these scumbags go on record for attempting to destroy this great program. Like Pelosi said this morning (in so many words), its ours and we will fight for it. The last thing I want to do is let them walk away when they realize they are going to lose and then have them pretend that nothing really ever happened. They seem to think they can win. I think they wrong and we can and have won! Let's make sure the public is aware of this when the chips finally fall.

Posted by: Adrock | Feb 4, 2005 2:34:28 PM

"But I think we have impacted the Social Security debate in a number of ways."

If we break down the word "we" as follows, I'd agree:

50% JMM
50% Everybody Else

Posted by: Petey | Feb 4, 2005 4:29:35 PM

And, of course, the real lefty blogosphere triumphalism is the worst and falsest sense of that word belongs to Markos and Jerome for thinking they're responsible for the DNC takeover, when the real work was done by Jim Jordan, Harold Ickes, and Tom Ochs.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 4, 2005 4:34:36 PM

Something tells me it's not over yet. Just one skirmish in the battle, just one battle in the war.

Smoke 'em if ya' got 'em, then get yer ass back out there.

Posted by: Phil P | Feb 4, 2005 5:08:39 PM

Petey, you're so modest. It was really you.

Armstrong and Kos are a couple of losers compared to your mighty self. really. I mean it.

Posted by: John Emerson | Feb 4, 2005 10:25:39 PM

"Petey, you're so modest. It was really you."

I'm fond of my own irrelevance. It frees me from responsibility.

"Armstrong and Kos are a couple of losers compared to your mighty self. really. I mean it."

I'm aware that my obsessive hatred of the Trippi-ists can be tiresome. But what can I say? I really believe they're a cancer on the left.

I don't a problem with other lefty sites. Atrios has achieved a similar level of success, his ideology isn't that different from Armstrong or Kos, and you'll never hear anything bad about Atrios from me.

In certain ways, I'm actually a great admirer of what Markos has built. It's an organizing machine for the left, and it was greatly needed. But the lack of intellectual honesty about others on the left, and the willingness to kneecap other Democrats for factional advantage really disturbs me.

Take the Donnie Fowler business, for example. Here's a guy who was urging an almost identical agenda for party reform as Markos, Dean, and Rosenberg. Here's a guy who Markos has often praised in the past. And the minute he emerges as a serious competitor for the DNC chair, Armstrong and Kos begin a smear and slur campaign against him, to the point of alleging criminal fraud.

I don't think that's OK.

And the great irony is that all this pissing in the communal well was unnecessary. What won Dean the chair wasn't Armstrong and Kos's intra-party bully boy act. It was Dean's willingness to repudiate Trippi-ism and ally with the Clintonistas. But, of course, that won't stop Armstrong and Kos from attempting to take credit.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 5, 2005 1:23:16 AM

With the bad bad jobs report this morning combined with yesterday's productivity decline the economy is lookin poorly. The opportunity to kill dead the "tax cuts create jobs and growth" myth is getting closer.

Republicans are desperate to find some money somewhere. It is not in the discretionary or defense budgets. They need those trillions, and will fight not as if the existence of the party is at stake, but because the existence of the party may actually be at stake. This is just beginning.

Some Republican in comments here talked of selling Yellowstone. Take that seriously, they will be that desperate. The economic chickens are coming home.

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Posted by: marlon | May 16, 2005 3:38:08 PM

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