The Breakfast Table

Rumor Flash: Social Security Saved!

First, a small correction. Even though the Byzantines controlled what is now Turkey, they were not Turkish. The Turks came from central Asia and conquered Asia minor, whereupon it became “Turkey.”

As I posted my anti-Jordan rant, even more hagiography came across my desk. The particular virtue stressed in a cover story in the Weekly Standard is that Jordan is a competitor. For instance, once somebody beat Jordan in pool, so Jordan refused to speak to him the next day. Newsweek’s cover profile mentions offhand that once Steve Kerr, Jordan’s teammate, disagreed with Jordan about a union vote, and in practice the next day Jordan gave him a black eye. What a competitor. John Gotti’s a competitor, too.

I agree with you on taxes, although I wouldn’t put it so alliteratively. (“Primed the press with promises of new programs!”) Did you notice the op-ed in today’s New York Times by supply-side guru Bruce Bartlett? He argues that fast economic growth dictates a big new tax cut. This is a welcome departure from his usual argument, which is that slow economic growth dictates a big new tax cut.

News flash. Well, actually, Rumor Flash: Clinton is going to unveil a specific plan to save Social Security tonight! This according to the libertarian Cato Institute. The Cato news release says Clinton wants to transfer the budget surplus to the Social Security trust fund and allow the trust fund to invest in private securities. If it’s true, I’m wildly enthusiastic, as I’ve agitated for these reforms before. Now, Cato frequently gets these things wrong, but they usually err on the side of wild optimism, and this is the kind of plan that they would hate. Do you think it will happen, and if so what’s your opinion? If you beg off this topic, it’s back to basketball and Byzantines.