hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, June 14, 2002
here's an excerpt of a press release from Zell Miller:

"It was and is a responsible tax cut. If anything, it
should have been larger and kicked in sooner. The tax
cut does not get into the Medicare and Social Security
trust funds, as some protest. What would eat into them
is hog-wild spending on other items. That's where a
problem could arise. Let's pass the defense and
education appropriations bills as well as the $300
million prescription drug benefit as soon as possible,
and then let's go on a fast the likes of which have
not been seen since [Gandhi]."

suppose we do as Zell Miller suggests:  pass the
popular sound-bites (defense, education, prescription
drugs); baseline spending for potential sound bites
(e.g. school lunches, air-traffic controllers);
elimination of "fraud, waste and abuse"; and that
hoary conservative favorite, an "across-the-board"
cut in "everything else". What would be the scope of
such spending cuts, and what would be the

Also, In case you missed it, a new attack on you from
the National Review:


"It's when he gets to Social Security "privatization"
that Krugman breaks new ground. Privatizing Social
Security, he says, "would increase, not reduce, the
implicit debt. If the payroll taxes of younger workers
are diverted into private accounts, the benefits
promised to current retirees and older workers will
have to be paid out of other revenue."

Krugman's claim is simply, unequivocally, false. No
private-account plan increases the implicit debt,
because no such plan makes any new promises to current
or future retirees. The most a private-account plan
would do is bring forward in time the burden of
financing some of those promises-converting implicit
debt into explicit debt.

If this were a Krugman screed, at this point we would
start questioning his honesty. But maybe he's made an
honest mistake. We'll know the answer if he repeats it
next Sunday."

Lastly, I think you've assumed that Republicans
basically agree on the necessity of reforming the AMT.
I don't think that's true. They seem to be laying the
groundwork for making AMT reform a Democrat issue, so
they can blame the Democrats for this "new" assault on
the trust funds.