In today’s New York Times, Helene Cooper wrote a news analysis advocating that President Obama slash Medicare and Social Security even though it might cost him reelection. The reporter, however, offers no reason to think that reneging on the basic commitment citizens must have to one another would make anything better. In reality, damaging our basic contract might be highly profitable to Wall Street financiers (who hope to charge commissions for managing retirement funds that Social Security now manages for far less), hedge-fund managers (who can profit as easily by betting against the American economy as by betting for it), and insurance companies (which will profit from increasingly bloated medical costs until the cost of care gets so high that no one can afford it). But cutting back on the basic guarantees we offer citizens, like cutting back on the other essential governmental services that make successful economies possible, will only make our jobs crisis worse.
Daniel J. H. Greenwood teaches law at Hofstra University. He has published numerous law review articles, book chapters, and popular opinion pieces on corporate law, corporate speech rights, and the role of corporations in politics, as well as on minority religious rights and related topics.