Krugman on Social Security & the election

Paul Krugman is right:

if a re-elected president were to endorse [Simpson-Bowles], he would be betraying the trust of the voters who returned him to office.

This election is, as I said, shaping up as a referendum on our social insurance system, and it looks as if Mr. Obama will emerge with a clear mandate for preserving and extending that system. It would be a terrible mistake, both politically and for the nation’s future, for him to let himself be talked into snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The big problem with Krugman’s analysis is that while it is certainly true that the public re-electing Obama would be a strong statement in support of our social safety net and against fiscal austerity, it is not clear that the President would view it that way. Instead, Obama would like view his re-election as support for him and his views, regardless of whether or not they were driving components of the discussion in the election. He may not be publicly campaigning on his support for a Simpson-Bowles framework, but if that’s what he believes is right, it’s what he will pursue. I’m not quite sure what there is to be done about that.

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