Here's a thought experiment: What if a group of Social Security and Medicare recipients wanted to increase their benefits by, say, 1,000 percent, and proposed seizing rich people's assets -- houses, cars, boats, whatever -- to pay for it? And whenever anybody suggested that was extreme, they rolled their eyes and said "We're pragmatists."
But isn't it unfair to just take other people's stuff? "Ideologues like you are the reason Washington lacks the political will to adopt our practical solutions."
Now imagine the reverse: Rich CEOs have used every tax loophole in the book to add to their own wealth, have been bailed out directly or indirectly by the American taxpayer, and have rigged corporate governance so that they make far more than they're worth.
Now, to make sure the milk and honey keeps flowing their way, they want to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits for the beleaguered American majority. Sounds crazy, right?
Meet the CEOs of the Business Roundtable.
They hate our
Matt Yglesias is right: There's a special hatred for Social Security out there -- and for Medicare, too. They're hated because, as Yglesias says, some people don't consider them "economically valuable."
That's an extremist right-wing point of view by any objective measure.
It's also well outside the mainstream of public opinion for Americans of all political leanings, including Tea Party members, according to polling. When it's espoused by rich corporate CEOs, it's also exceptionally greedy.
Which gets us to the business at hand ...
It's easy if you have the will.
Yesterday Gary Loveman, CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corporation and head of the Roundtable's "health and retirement committee," told Politico that "Any effort to address the country's fiscal problems has to have as a centerpiece reform of its principal entitlement programs."
Added Loveman: "None of us [CEOs] -- very few of us -- are ideologically driven. We're pragmatists ..."
"I am encouraged by how relatively easy these remedies really are," said Loveman. "... (and) they have a tremendously sanguine effect on the government's fiscal health."
That's true. It is pretty easy. Just kick in a few rich people's doors, seize their belongings ... oh, wait. That's the other extremist scenario. Loveman's is the one where people who have paid for Social Security and Medicare coverage throughout their working lives must give some of their benefits up -- for him and his friends.