A Profile in Courage?

Every once and a while, one trips across a politician who actually states the truth regardless of what the political consequences might be. These are rare and perhaps unguarded moments. But let’s celebrate them when they occur.

I have scant interest in Florida politics (or Florida, for that matter). But Marco Rubio has received a bit of attention for his comments during a debate with former RINO and current independent Charlie Crist.

When discussing the future of Social Security, Rubio suggested that there will have to be significant changes, including increases in the retirement age or changes in the cost of living adjustment (COLA).  Crist issued what might be included in a 21st century “profiles in courage.” He rejected Rubio’s remedies and, instead, offered to attack “waste and abuse.” There is an entry worth reading by Andrew Biggs on the Enterprise Blog.

When Rubio was given the opportunity to withdraw “clarify” his remarks, he said:  “I stand by it squarely.”

It is refreshing that Rubio was willing to make a statement like this in a race for the Senate in Florida  (i.e., the East Coast Democratic equivalent of the elephant graveyard). One can only hope that a few more politicians decide to strike a principled position on our major entitlement programs. I hold out little hope, of course, given the current administration’s claims that some of the funding for the new health care entitlement will come from…waste, fraud, and abuse.

I know that complete privatization is the dream of libertarians.  Realistically, it will never occur. But finding a glide path to sustainability is doable. Progressive indexing (suggested as part of Bush’s “risky privatization scheme”) would go far in saving Social Security. Essentially, higher income individuals would receive lower COLAs than middle and lower income individuals (i.e., a benefit cut). This scares the Left because they realize that the closer Social Security comes to being a means-tested program, the lower the political support will be for retaining the program. In essence, they have chosen to sacrifice sustainability for political expediency.

Increasing the retirement age, also recommended by Rubio, is likely a nonstarter. It would force large portions with lower life expectancies to pay into a system that they could never hope to benefit from.  With the nation’s changing demographics, it would force those with lower life expectancies to subsidize the retirements of a dwindling white genontocracy—not a recipe for political stability.

Ideally, Americans would come to the realization that they must engage in Asian savings rates if they hope to achieve anything approaching an acceptable income in their final decades. But again, I hold out little hope.

In the end, one can only hope that more politicians follow the lead of Mr. Rubio and take the risk of speaking truth, even if (horror of horrors), such actions carry consequences.

One thought on “A Profile in Courage?

  1. Since the increase in the retirement age to 67 is already in effect and will start biting soon, it will be interesting to see how the politics of that play out.

    Probably a lot of people don’t even realize that the age will be going up already. Perhaps that is what the current Congress will do–institute an increase several years from now. It worked before (wasn’t it under Reagan that this passed?)

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