The long knives have been coming out over Social Security lately. The latest wave of attacks was triggered by an amendment from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) which would have expanded Social Security benefits, and which won the support of most Democrats in the Senate. That signaled a potential shift in the political tide – toward Social Security in particular and economic populism in general.
It also meant that it was time to suit up conservatism’s frayed old straw men and send them into dubious battle once again.
The attackers this time around include a “libertarian” finance writer, an editor for the National Review, and – inevitably – the editorial board of the Washington Post. But the battle against economic populism isn’t just being waged by the right. There are factions within the Democratic Party that want to re-empower its “centrist” wing, and they’ve been pushing back on the party’s new populism – which the movement to expand Social Security both reflects and reinforces – this week as well.
(These issues will be discussed next week at the Populism 2015 conference, cosponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future.)