I am not a Populist
By Arnold Kling
Arnold, do you really think that Miron’s proposals would appeal to a majority of Americans? Raising the retirement age to seventy?
It depends on how the issue is framed. When Al Gore framed it during his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in 2000, he framed it as forcing a single-mom waitress to keep working after age 65. And most politicians frame it as if people aged 67 today would be forced back to work.
Instead, it might be framed as, “If you are under the age of 50, we will cut your Social Security taxes in exchange for raising the age at which you collect benefits to 70. Our other choice is to wait until you are 65, and then cut your benefits based on what we think we can afford at that time. Deal?”
The point is that politicians never want to admit that they have promised more than they can deliver on SS, so the debate is always between a “safe, popular program” and a “risky scheme.” In fact, it is SS that is the risky scheme.
I am not a populist. I seem to remember that there is a book coming out with the title Myth of the Rational Voter, and I think that the title and the book are on point.
But I think that in dealing with irrational voters, politicians tend to manipulate things in the direction of centralizing power.