Just a year ago top Democrats were set to give a little on Social Security and Medicare. Today, however—emboldened by President Obama’s victory—they’re singing a different tune.
Here’s Harry Reid last week:
“I’ve made it very clear. I’ve told anyone that [sic] will listen, including everyone in the White House, including the president, that I am not going to be part of having Social Security as part of these talks relating to this deficit.”
A year ago one might have thought that reality was at last finding root in Washington—the reality that the present course cannot be sustained. But, sadly, the only reality motivating the actors last year was their fear that—given the Republican’s mid-term success with their supposed smaller-government platform—reality may have at last found root in the American electorate.
If indeed the President’s win means what Reid’s position would suggest, well then, even as reality plays out in Europe, we the electorate still don’t seem to get it.
As for the politicians; as Gordon Tullock suggests (The Economics of Politics, Volume 4), they won’t get it until we do:
Politicians and businessmen will sometimes pay a price (lost constituent support) in order to do what they think is good, but on the whole they can be expected to act in such a way as to maximize their own well-being in terms of re-election prospects. Stated in different language, the politician as businessman pursues policies which he thinks the people want because he hopes they will reward him with their votes.