CNN's Gloria Borger lavishes praise on the Simpson/Bowles draft proposals to reduce the deficit, repeatedly declaring it a "serious" plan. I won't dwell on the unseemliness of a well-paid political pundit praising the seriousness of a proposal that would, among other things, raise the retirement age on people who do back-breaking manual labor so we don't have to ask the wealthy to pay a slightly higher tax bill. Seriousness, after all, is in the eye of the beholder, and Gloria Borger is entitled to her opinion.
I will, however, note that if you're going to set yourself up as a high-minded, serious policy analyst, it's a good idea to first make sure you know what you're talking about. Borger, it seems, does not. Here's her praise for the draft proposal for changes to the Social Security sytstem:
This was an honest document in which all sides were gored. Democrats can wail about the Social Security fixes, but they can't complain about this: The plan does not count the savings in Social Security as a way to reduce the overall deficit. Instead, the money saved goes right back into the Social Security trust fund -- so the liberals who have complained about balancing the budget on the backs of senior citizens can stop. And, yes, there are reductions in benefits -- reducing cost-of-living adjustments and some benefits, raising the retirement age gradually as well as subjecting those earning at the high end to more payroll tax. But if you actually want to save Social Security, what else can you do?
Seriously? Gloria Borger doesn't think there's anything that can be done to extend Social Security's solvency other than reducing benefits and raising the retirement age?
According to the Congressional Budget Office (pdf), the program would be fine for the next 75 years if we simply removed the cap on income subjected to payroll taxes. That's it: That's all that's necessary. A tiny portion of Americans would -- like the rest of the country -- pay Social Security taxes on all their income rather than just some of it. No benefit cuts. No postponement of retirement. Problem solved.
Now, Borger doesn't have to support that solution. Like I said: She's entitled to her opinion. She may have reasons why she'd rather cut benefits and raise the retirement age for people who don't have cushy desk jobs like she does. But if she isn't even aware of the existence of this option, there's no reason why anyone should take seriously her views on what is "serious."