November 18, 2004

Dick Morris Phones One In

Dick Morris is right when he says that the election wasn't won on abortion but he obviously wasn't paying attention when he selected his example of unacceptable behavior on judicial nominations. Rehnquist votes pro-life so substituting Thomas for Rhenquist would not change the balance but neither would putting in a pro-life nominee to substitute for Thomas. The voting balance on abortion issues would not change a bit with Roe being defended and occasional regulatory measures passing SC scrutiny.

Morris really loses it on analyzing tax reform and Social Security. There is no possible way that any reform isn't going to be intensely scrutinized for Morris to say

Everybody knows Bush would rather die than raise taxes, so people will trust him to make the package at least revenue-neutral.

is foolish to say the least. Instead, I predict that websites will spring up that let you calculate your tax burden under the new rules without much effort at all. I wouldn't even be surprised if the makers of tax software are roped in to produce updates for their prior year customers so that you can take last year's data and calculate the differences in every bill variation. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if people paid a few bucks for the service. There will be no tax simplification in the Morris plan because, like the AMT, people will just calculate twice (now three times) and pay the lower tax.

Morris' Social Security idea of indexation to a fixed average retirement benefit is vulnerable in the out years to exactly the sort of pandering that has got us in the current mess. Seniors will likely vote for somebody who adds a year to the average retirement benefit in good times and will severely punish those who want to subtract a year when the economic burden starts choking growth. It's this one way ratchet effect that is at the heart of the social welfare conundrum faced all over the free world. By shifting towards a market based system, we escape the ratchet effect.

Morris should have dipped into his reserves and submitted an evergreen reserve column. He embarrassed himself with this one.

Posted by TMLutas at November 18, 2004 07:51 PM