The other day we mentioned that one of the surprising things in the battle of ideas these days is the degree to which the center-right of the political spectrum wants to make government tax and spending policy tilt more away from the "rich." The latest to pile on is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Andrew G. Biggs, who "was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration and, in 2005 ... worked at the White House National Economic Council on Social Security reform."
In National Review Online, Mr. Biggs writes to suggest fixing Social Security's finances by "reducing benefits for middle and higher earners." He avers that "taxes wouldn't increase." For that, the middle and higher earners are supposed to be grateful? Where do they go to get a refund of the taxes they paid in all these years to pay for benefits that they are now going to be told they earn too much to deserve? I realize this sort of approach is increasingly popular among deficit hawks on the center-right. I think it's newsworthy. But on a certain level, given how tilted the system already looks to a lot of the upper income folks who pay a large share of the taxes yet don't receive a lot of the means-tested benefits or tax breaks — there's something about this idea that is likely to trigger some serious outrage among those whose benefits would be cut.