What Robin Hood?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


As usual, E.J. Dionne has a wonderful column on Social Security, lambasting the press for praising the president’s supposedly Robin Hood-like proposal for Social Security. Progressive? Please. Taking an axe to every middle-class man, woman, and child in America, and then telling those making under $20,000 a year that they’ll be spared from the slaughter, is not what normal people consider progressive. Luckily, Dionne’s not among the deluded:

Bush has refused to put his own tax cuts on the table as part of a Social Security fix. Repealing Bush’s tax cuts for those earning more than $350,000 a year could cover all or most of the 75-year Social Security shortfall. Keeping part of the estate tax in place could cover a quarter to half of the shortfall. Some of the hole could be filled in by a modest surtax on dividends or capital gains.

But Bush is resolute about protecting the interests of the truly rich by making sure that any taxes on wealth are ruled out of the game from the beginning. The Social Security cuts he is proposing for the wealthy are a pittance compared with the benefits they get from his tax cuts. The president is keeping his eye on what really matters to him.

Ayup. And this underscores how ridiculous the whole debate is. The president has said that “all solutions are on the table” for fixing Social Security, but at the same time he’s flatly ruled out tax increases, as well as dedicating any general tax revenue to fixing Social Security. (Unless, of course, we’re privatizing the program, in which case he apparently has no problem funneling in trillions of dollars.) Well, that leaves only one option: benefit cuts. And since middle- and low-earners receive most of the program’s benefits, that means benefit cuts for them. It doesn’t have to be that way, but that’s what Bush has chosen. And sure, if you assume from the start that benefit cuts are the only option, then within that framework you’re going to look awfully compassionate for shielding the poor from the worst of those cuts. May as well laud a murderer for his “thoughtfulness” because he takes care that no blood stains the carpet.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest