Posted 8 months ago on Dec. 15, 2013, 8 a.m. EST by GirlFriday
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The Overton Window has shifted! At least in the case of Social Security.
The Overton Window — named for the late Joseph P. Overton of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy — is the frame through which acceptable options for public policy are viewed at any given time. Options that are outside of the frame (or “outside the box,” to use another metaphor) are deemed unworthy of consideration or mention by the bipartisan establishment, no matter how compelling those options may actually be. The Overton Window tends to be positioned by the owners and bureaucrats of the major media, who tend to share an elite consensus with politicians and the donors who fund them.
Until recently, in discussions of the future of Social Security the Overton Window was positioned to exclude any discussion of raising, rather than cutting, Social Security benefits. For the last generation, the range of permissible opinion with respect to the program — which most Americans depend on for nearly all of their income in old age — ranged from conservatives who wanted to abolish Social Security altogether, to press-anointed “progressives” and token Democrats who merely wanted to cut Social Security benefits. The option of maintaining scheduled Social Security benefits, and paying for them with higher taxes, was considered unworthy of discussion by the guardians of Overton Orthodoxy, both in the press and in the two major parties. As for expanding Social Security benefits — why, that’s crazy talk!
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