Thank you, Andrew Biggs, for this entry on your “Notes on Social Security Reform” blog, where you defend the Concord Coalition by pointing out how people hate us on both sides (while admitting one might characterize yourself as leaning toward one of those sides):
I’m a fan of Dean Baker (really). He’s a smart guy who sticks to his guns and pulls no punches, and his work is always interesting. He was ahead of the stock market and housing market bubbles, and called the over-valued dollar several years ago. (My portfolio thanks you.)
All that said, his rhetoric can get a bit overheated at times. Here I’m thinking of a recent column, entitled “Vicious Ideologue Renews Attack on Social Security.” If it were about, say, me I could understand the title.
But in fact the vicious ideologue in question is Pete Peterson, the investment banker and former Commerce Secretary who has long supported the Concord Coalition and now funds a foundation dedicated to, among other things, raising awareness of future entitlement shortfalls…
…I don’t know Peterson’s private thoughts. But I do know that the Concord Coalition, an organization Peterson has long been associated with, takes no position on whether entitlements should be fixed through increased taxes or reduced benefits. They merely argue that taxes and benefits must be equalized, and the sooner the better. (This opens them to attacks from folks like Peter Ferrara, who apparently agrees that they’re vicious ideologues, just of a different stripe.) Now, the political culture is such that Americans will likely want to fix these systems with fewer tax increases and more benefit cuts than Dean would prefer (and probably more tax increases and fewer benefit cuts than I would prefer). But that’s a different issue.
There’s more I could quibble with, but the larger point is ultimately we’re going to have to come together to reach a compromise on these issues, and it’s neither helpful nor, in my view, fair to make such strident attacks on other people character. This is a punch Dean should have pulled.
Alright–look out for our usual commentators now!