The size of that fix [required to keep Social Security fully funded] is significant, but not astonishing. Over the next 75 years, the shortfall will be equal to about 0.7 percent of gross domestic product. How much is 0.7 percent of GDP? To put that in perspective, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that it’s about as much as George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich will cost over the same period. Saying we can afford those cuts — which is the consensus Republican position — but not Social Security’s outlay is nonsensical. Coming up with 0.7 percent of GDP isn’t a crisis. It’s a question of priorities.
And this is precisely how it should be talked about every single time a microphone is turned on. Clear, simple terms that highlight the basic stability of the program, the relative ease of fixing it (as opposed to, say, Medicare), and its critical position as the only thing between catfood and dying in the streets for millions of elderly individuals who have by and large paid into it, fair and square. Oh, but now your deal has to change and you have to keep working at your labors until you’re 70. Just makes perfect sense.
The parallels to Wisconsin are striking: A group and the government enter into a deal. Now the government wants to change the deal ex post facto, and uses a bludgeon of “dread Unions” to paper over the fact that they the government are the one dealing in underhanded fashion. And, of course, the media blissfully reports it from the government perspective. This is why we fail.
But, if a few million folks show up on the doorstep of said government, well, things can change.