The column, while fairly short and simplistic, is the type of brief soundbite to which people pay attention. Plus, it will no doubt get Krugman some nice on-air gigs over the next few months. This is a good thing. We need his hairy face front and center in this battle.
Here's the summary of his column from today (use bugmenot.com if you're not registered at the NYT site):
There are two serious threats to the federal government's solvency over the next couple of decades. One is the fact that the general fund has already plunged deeply into deficit, largely because of President Bush's unprecedented insistence on cutting taxes in the face of a war. The other is the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid.
As a budget concern, Social Security isn't remotely in the same league. The long-term cost of the Bush tax cuts is five times the budget office's estimate of Social Security's deficit over the next 75 years. The botched prescription drug bill passed in 2003 does more, all by itself, to increase the long-run budget deficit than the projected rise in Social Security expenses.
That doesn't mean nothing should be done to improve Social Security's finances. But privatization is a fake solution to a fake crisis.
And Krugman didn't even get into the Pension Guarantee Board, which is about broke and represents a much larger eminent threat to upcoming retirees. Bottom line - the whole issue is a smokescreen for something much bigger. Much, much bigger. Much more costly. That's the only reason BushCo would need such a huge media distraction.