Politics Magazine

Haley Doesn't Care About Workers Who Need Social Security

Posted on the 29 November 2023 by Jobsanger
Haley Doesn't Care About Workers Who Need Social Security
Nikki Haley is being painted by many in the media as being a "moderate" Republican. She is not! One example of how she is far to the right is her odious stand on Social Security. Economist Paul Krugman explains: 

Haley has never really shown a willingness to stand up to Republican extremists — and at this point the whole G.O.P. has been taken over by extremists

That said, Haley has shown some consistency on issues of economic and fiscal policy. And what you should know is that her positions on these issues are pretty far to the right. In particular, she seems exceptionally explicit, even among would-be Republican nominees, in calling for an increase in the age at which Americans become eligible for Social Security — a bad idea that seems to be experiencing a revival.

So let’s talk about Social Security.

The first thing you should know about Social Security is that the actual numbers don’t justify the apocalyptic rhetoric one often hears, not just from the right but from self-proclaimed centrists who want to sound serious. No, the exhaustion of the system’s trust fund, currently projected to occur in roughly a decade, wouldn’t mean that benefits disappear.

It would mean that the system would need additional revenue to continue paying scheduled benefits in full. But the extra revenue required would be smaller than you probably think. The most recent long-term projections from the Congressional Budget Office show Social Security outlays rising to 6.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2053 from 5.1 percent this year, not exactly an earth-shattering increase. . . .

Social Security does face a funding gap. How should it be closed?

Anyone who says, as Haley does, that the retirement age should rise in line with increasing life expectancy is being oblivious, perhaps willfully, to the grim inequality of modern America. Until Covid struck, average life expectancy at 65, the relevant number, was indeed rising. But these gains were concentrated among Americans with relatively high incomes. Less affluent Americans — those who depend most on Social Security — have seen little rise in life expectancy, and in some cases actual declines.

So anyone invoking rising life expectancy as a reason to delay Social Security benefits is, in effect, saying that aging janitors must keep working (or be cast into extreme poverty) because bankers are living longer.

How, then, should the Social Security gap be closed? The obvious answer — which happens to be favored by a majority of voters — is to raise more revenue. Remember, America collects less revenueas a percentage of G.D.P. than almost any other advanced economy.

But Haley, of course, wants to cut income taxes.

My guess is that none of this will be relevant, that Trump will be the nominee. But if he stumbles, I would beg political reporters not to focus on Haley’s personal affect, which can seem moderate, but rather on her policies. On social issues and the fate of democracy, she appears to be a pure weather vane, turning with the political winds. On fiscal and economic policy, she’s a hard-right advocate of tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the working class. If calling someone a “populist” has any meaning these days, she’s the exact opposite.


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