Larry K., you underestimate the political paradox posed by an effort to reform the Alternative Minimum Tax. If Democrats offer a genuinely serious AMT reform that manages to cut taxes for tens of millions of middle-class people, the constituency for vetoing such a reform on the grounds that it would involve a tax-rate increase on those making more than $150,000 a year could fit comfortably into a Tokyo hotel room. The problem with Democratic tax plans has always been that they end up raising taxes on the middle class and small business. If they actually try a middle-class tax cut that aids small businesspeople, it will be a revolution and could begin to break the Republican hold on the tax-cut issue.
As for the Social Security reform plan, if Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson really skipped out on his $100 million bonus from Goldman Sachs just so he could fight for this one, he’s a wonderfully well-intentioned and unbelievably self-sacrificing public servant with a vital interest in the common weal to whom, one day, I would like to sell a bridge to Brooklyn.