The two key points in the takedown of Kerrey/Bai:
“Entitlement” or “entitlements” are mentioned four times in the piece. “Debt,” as in the federal government debt, not consumer debt, is mentioned four times. This is because Kerrey believes, and Bai clearly agrees, that America’s most pressing crisis is the federal deficit, and the way to fix it is “entitlement reform.” The word “job” shows up once, when Kerrey says the Obama administration “did a terrible job” selling healthcare reform. “Unemployment” is not mentioned.
We are supposed to find this anecdote charming, I think. The problem is that Bob Kerry is full of shit. The fact that he is full of shit — that he believes a popular fiction — is not deemed worthy of comment. But he’s spreading misinformation designed to scare people into supporting policies that aren’t necessary but that are popular among rich, moderate elite politicos like Bob Kerrey. This lady’s son isn’t screwed. If he reaches retirement age 40 years from now, and no one has done anything to fix Social Security because Bob Kerry lost his election in 2012, the program will be able to pay him 75 percent of scheduled benefits. Crisis! Unless we just raise the payroll tax cap and/or slightly raise the tax rate and/or adjust the inflation calculation and/or maybe raise the retirement age one year. Or some other combination of small, decidedly minor fixes that require a “grand bargain” only if the people in charge of the bargaining actually have, as their actual goal, the dismantling of Social Security as it currently exists.
I’m also amused by Kerrey’s suggestion that making political parties illegal would make Congress less dysfunctional.