It feels like years ago, but actually only a few months have passed since many big Republican donors seemed to believe that Ron DeSantis could effectively challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. It has been an edifying spectacle — an object lesson in the reality that great wealth need not be associated with good judgment, about politics or anything else.
At this point, both conventional wisdom and prediction markets say that Trump has a virtual lock on the nomination. But Wall Street isn’t completely resigned to Trump’s inevitability; there has been a late surge in big-money support for Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina. And there is, to be fair, still a chance that Trump — who is facing many criminal charges and whose public rants have become utterly unhinged — will manage to crash and burn before securing the nomination.
So it seems worth looking at what Haley stands for.
From a political point of view, one answer might be: nothing. A recent Times profile described her as having “an ability to calibrate her message to the moment.” A less euphemistic way to put this is that she seems willing to say whatever might work to her political advantage. “Flip-flopping” doesn’t really convey the sheer cynicism with which she has shifted her rhetoric and changed her positions on everything from abortion rights to immigration to whether it’s OK to try overturning a national election.
And anyone hoping that she would govern as a moderate if she should somehow make it to the White House is surely delusional. Haley has never really shown a willingness to stand up to Republican extremists — and at this point the whole G.O.P. has been taken over by extremists.
That said, Haley has shown some consistency on issues of economic and fiscal policy. And what you should know is that her positions on these issues are pretty far to the right. In particular, she seems exceptionally explicit, even among would-be Republican nominees, in calling for an increase in the age at which Americans become eligible for Social Security — a bad idea that seems to be experiencing a revival.
So let’s talk about Social Security.
The first thing you should know about Social Security is that the actual numbers don’t justify the apocalyptic rhetoric one often hears, not just from the right but from self-proclaimed centrists who want to sound serious. No, the exhaustion of the system’s trust fund, currently projected to occur in roughly a decade, wouldn’t mean that benefits disappear.
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