Now let's get back to Krugman's narative on Greenspan's clearly diabolical plan to screw the poor and middle class and give their money to the well off. It was apparently amazingly well thought out, and unfolded over a span of 20 years. Yes, twenty years. Boy, I thought only the "illuminati" were so far-sighted. (BTW, if you don't know who the illuminati are (or is it the luminati?), you really don't want to know - tinfoil hat time. The people who talk about them make Oliver Stone almost seem rational in comparison.)
What's quite interesting is, though Krugman talks of the huge surplus in SS, he somehow neglects to mention Medicare's huge deficit. However, if you look at SS and Medicare combined, while there is still a surplus, it is minor. According to the CBO, revenues for them combined amounted to 7.0% of GDP in 2002, while outlays for the two programs amounted to ... drumroll ... 6.9% of GDP. The Medicare deficit nearly offsets the Social Security surplus!
Given Krugman's history of intentional distortions, does it surpise anyone that, after ommitting any mention of Medicare when discussing the Social Security surplus, he does NOT forget to mention it as a Bush "target" for "squeezing spending". Did you get that? Something like six months after Bush passes a huge new increase in Medicare spending, Krugman has the incredible gaul to talk of Bush trying to "squeeze" Medicare spending! I wish!
And Krugman wants to write about Greenspan's alleged "chutzpah"? Amazing.
If the Greenspan Commission's recommendations (or something similar) hadn't been followed, these programs would be in the red today. Some conspiracy!
BTW, while the official title was The Greenspan Commission on Social Security Reform, and didn't specifically mention Medicare, from their recommendations it is clear that their proposals were concerned with, and dealt with both:
"The major reasons for this proposal are:
(1) Americans are living longer.
(2) Older workers will be in a greater demand in future years.
(3) The disability benefits program can be improved to provide cash benefits and Medicare to those between age 62 and the higher normal retirement age who, for reasons of health, are unable to continue working.
(4) Because the ratio of workers to beneficiaries is projected to decline after the turn of the century, younger generations are expected to pay significantly increased taxes to support the system in the 21st century. An increase in the normal retirement age will lessen the increase.
(5) Given sufficient notice, coming generations of beneficiaries can adjust to a later retirement age just as earlier generations adjusted to age 65."
One final thing. Look at the first and final items above. They were already talking about reducing benefits (increasing the retirement age) as Americans continued to grow older into this new millineum. Their plan at the time - out in the open, all the way back in 1983 - was to gradually increase the retirement age from 62 in 2000 to 66 in 2015. Some bait and switch!