Ice cream with jimmies or Social Security?

The Falmouth Commodores lost in three straight playoff games to the Cotuit Kettleers. The first game set the scene, when the Kettleers’ big left-handed pitcher, Trey Holland, helped hold Falmouth runless for six innings, and eventually the whole game.

On a cool and cloudless Cape Cop evening, I sat with my brother-in-law in the aluminum stands with about 300 other spectators of all ages. Fly balls would occasionally sail, foul, into the adjacent police station parking lot, just missing a new Ford F-150 parked there. The Red Sox were out of town in Kansas City that night, but the Cape Cod League, with its voluntary admission, $3 hot dogs — cooked by a kid at a grill just behind the concession stand — and big-league prospect players, provided a low-key alternative.

Why do I write about this? Just to say how soul-satisfying time in America — that is, not in Washington — can be. The grim news went on, that’s for sure: Two mass shootings, the prison suicide of a notorious federal suspect, stock market gyrations, federal deficits and debts piling up faster.

Yet out in “America” it looked like more people were watching baseball, queuing up at ice cream stands, visiting local watering holes, or fishing than staring at the solemn foolery of those endless cable news panels.

People care about the news. It’s not lost on them, for example, that the federal deficit so far this year is up 27% from a year ago. With a month and a half left in the fiscal year, it’s already hit almost $900 billion. Thanks to the economy, federal receipts are up 3%, and thanks to Congress, spending is up 8%.

Retirement and how to pay for it — there’s something a lot of people worry about. Yet growing Social Security obligations are a major driver of the growth in spending. You might be surprised to know there actually is a serious bill in the House to deal with Social Security’s looming insolvency. The Social Security 2100 Act would both sweeten benefits and raise payroll taxes. The bill would also mash Social Security’s two funds into a single Social Security Trust Fund, thus concealing the effects of exploding disabilities benefits spending.

The bill has 210 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats. I’m guessing to Republicans it looks like tax-and-spend. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) recently argued the bill “rips off” millennials with a lifetime of higher taxes. He said, “Your grandkids get mugged.” The Democrats argue that the wealthy pay a greater share because the bill would end the limits on the amount of income subject to Social Security taxes. And no one would have their benefits trimmed to pay for long-term solvency.

On the other hand, Brady does have a bill to improve Social Security benefits to non-federal public employees who pay in but in some circumstances don’t receive full benefits.

Back and forth it goes. Rather than trade barbs publicly, I wish they’d go into a vape-filled room somewhere and hash out a bill with something for everyone to love and hate.

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