To put Mr. Greenspan's game of fiscal three-card monte in perspective, remember that the push for Social Security privatization is only part of the right's strategy for dismantling the New Deal and the Great Society. The other big piece of that strategy is the use of tax cuts to "starve the beast."
According to starve-the-beast doctrine, right-wing politicians can use the big deficits generated by tax cuts as an excuse to slash social insurance programs. Mr. Bush's advisers thought that it would prove especially easy to sell benefit cuts in the context of Social Security privatization because the president could pretend that a plan that sharply cut benefits would actually be good for workers.
The best bet now is that Mr. Bush will manage to make the poor suffer, but fail to make a dent in the great middle-class entitlement programs.
And the consequence of the failure of the starve-the-beast theory is a looming fiscal crisis - Mr. Greenspan isn't wrong about that. The middle class won't give up programs that are essential to its financial security; the right won't give up tax cuts that it sold on false pretenses. The only question now is when foreign investors, who have financed our deficits so far, will decide to pull the plug.
Krugman is a smart guy who knows this shit inside and out, and has the balls to call 'em like he sees 'em. You should read him religiously. Print his op-eds, put them in a binder, and refer to them often. He does "talking head" duty on TV occasionally and is well worth watching. I liked it the time he went toe-to-toe with Bill O'Reilly and didn't give an inch to that big