Have we gotten to the point where we can’t have an honest political discussion any more?
I’ve used this blog to criticize the crazies (Gail Collins refers to them as ‘rabid ferrets in today’s column) who currently control the GOP. Today, I’m giving equal time to the lefties who characterize any proposed change to social programs as “cuts” to be fought tooth and nail.
As part of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, President Obama has signaled a willingness to change the formula by which Social Security cost-of-living raises are calculated. In the wake of that suggestion, my inbox has been filled with hysterical warnings about imminent poverty for the elderly, recriminations for the administration for its willingness to “cut benefits,” and calls for Action with a capital A. Don’t bother to read the fine print. Sign this petition! Send this message!
This knee-jerk reaction is no different from that of the right-wing NRA types who equate restrictions on assault weapons with the imminent “confiscation of our guns.”
Can we stipulate that these issues are more complicated than these hysterical charges and counter-charges suggest? For once, can we have an adult conversation about the pros and cons of a suggested policy change?
A change in the formula used for calculating raises is not a cut–at least, not as that word is understood by most sentient humans. That doesn’t mean that there may not be undesirable side-effects from the proposed change, but if those undesirable side-effects exist, they should be specified and discussed. If the proposed change will operate to harm disadvantaged populations, we should tweak the formula to avoid those consequences. Screaming that the sky will fall if XYZ occurs is rarely a prelude to rational policy debate.
The left justifiably criticizes the Tea Party ideologues for their refusal even to consider alternatives to their positions. That intransigence–that refusal to acknowledge nuance and complexity–is no more attractive or helpful when it comes from the left.