Martin Wolf and I See the Odds on the Different Future Chinas Somewhat Differently

Must-Read: As time passes, there seems to be less and less technocrat rationale for the policy of cutting back the social insurance state in order to keep the taxes on the rich low. Yet that does not appear to do anything to weaken pressures putting for politicians to endorse such policies--even at a very cost in terms of being in synch with their electoral base:

Paul Krugman: Base Versus Base: "‘This is an impressive crowd...

...the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base." -- George W. Bush

Ezra Klein... on [how] The Donald... representat['s]... the GOP base ... dovetails with my piece about Social Security.... The Republican establishment [now is] a small group of very wealthy donors... a sort of different base... [with] a stark conflict between the two bases. The Bush base... has anted up well over $100 million... to anoint Jeb!... If Jeb! really believed he could achieve 4 percent growth, there would be no need for Social Security cuts.... But slashing the welfare state is, of course, not about the money--it’s about the pain.)... Bro! was... pretty good at convincing the voter base that he was one of them.... But that fell apart... during his attempt to privatize Social Security. And Jeb! has no talent at all for that kind of salesmanship.... Everyone still says that DT can’t win this thing, and they may be right. But who, exactly, is supposed to come out on top and how?

Paul Krugman: Republicans Against Retirement: "Social Security... is, of course, both extremely popular...

and a long-term target of conservatives, who want to kill it.... Stephen Moore (now chief economist of the Heritage Foundation) once declared, Social Security is ‘the soft underbelly of the welfare state’; ‘jab your spear through that’ and you can undermine the whole thing.... Republicans... have been declaring... the retirement age... should go up... Jeb Bush... ‘68 or 70’. Scott Walker has echoed.... Marco Rubio... raise the retirement age and... cut benefits for higher-income seniors. Rand Paul... 70 and means-test benefits. Ted Cruz wants to revive the Bush privatization plan.... What’s puzzling... is that it looks like bad politics as well as bad policy....

It’s all about the big money. Wealthy individuals have long played a disproportionate role in politics, but we’ve never seen anything like what’s happening now: domination of campaign finance, especially on the Republican side, by a tiny group of immensely wealthy donors. Indeed, more than half the funds raised by Republican candidates through June came from just 130 families. And while most Americans love Social Security, the wealthy don’t...

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