The Note: Questionable Figures

"If the plan really would do that, it would be worth discussing. It's possible -- not certain, but possible -- that 40 or 50 years from now Social Security won't have enough money coming in to pay full benefits. (If the economy grows as fast over the next 50 years as it did over the past half-century, Social Security will do just fine.) So there's a case for making small sacrifices now to avoid bigger sacrifices later. But Mr. Bush isn't calling for small sacrifices now. Instead, he's calling for zero sacrifice now, but big benefit cuts decades from now -- which is exactly what he says will happen if we do nothing. Let me repeat that: to avert the danger of future cuts in benefits, Mr. Bush wants us to commit now to, um, future cuts in benefits." LINK

"This accomplishes nothing, except, possibly, to ensure that benefit cuts take place even if they aren't necessary."

Interestingly, David Brooks in his Sunday column wrote off the same assumptions that Krugman today tries to demolish. LINK

Roll Call's Chris Cillizza has details of the $100,000, two-week ad buy by targeting House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM).

George Will on Sunday called progressive indexing another form of means testing, and likened the overhaul of Social Security to revamping welfare. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Joel Havemann on Saturday reported that congressional Democrats, in defiance of urging by strategists to come up with their own plan on Social Security, are refusing to do so in favor of continuing to drive home their criticism of President Bush's advocacy of private accounts. LINK


"If the Central American Free Trade Agreement goes sour on Capitol Hill, the reason will almost certainly be sugar," unapologetically writes Greg Hitt in the Wall Street Journal. "The American sugar industry has become the standard-bearer of opposition to President Bush's top trade priority for 2005. It's the clearest loser under the agreement, which would open the tightly regulated U.S. market to new imports from five Central American countries, plus the Dominican Republic."

"And while organized labor and textile manufacturers are also opposed, the sugar growers have waged by far the fiercest fight to defeat the pact, capitalizing on the unusual breadth of the industry's political geography. That stretches from the wetland states of Louisiana and Florida, where sugar cane is big part of the local culture, to the mountain West, where sugar is made from beets in places like Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Petitions with the signatures of nearly 60,000 voters opposed to Cafta have been delivered to Capitol Hill. Farmers are pressuring local lawmakers back home, and many have flown to Washington this spring to underscore the message."

"Mr. Bush on Thursday plans to ramp up his campaign for Cafta, hosting the presidents of the six signatory countries in an effort to dramatize the regionwide importance of the agreement. He will need to use his bully pulpit aggressively. Because, so far at least, he is losing to the sugar industry, which is raising deep concerns among loyal Republicans and normally reliable free-trade legislators about the pact."

The economy:

"Score one for Alan Greenspan over the bond market," writes John Hilsenrath in the Wall Street Journal.

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