The Spitfire's Grill
Regular Rants from a Pragmatic Liberal
Monday, April 04, 2005
 
Social Security
I first want to get off my chest to any Republican who might eventually read this post: I have no inherent problem with private accounts. I am not morally opposed to them. I do not worry about the political consequences of "every American having a stake in our future", etc etc. Under the right conditions, private accounts would be wonderful. Unfortunately, politicians have a tendency to put off problems, but sometimes putting off the problem is the best choice. Telling people that you're going to put off the problem isn't very politically sexy, but if you look at the numbers I think that we can't have Social Security privatization until after we show some fiscal responsibility and prove to America's backers that we can pay down any debt incurred from private accounts. Cause right now, we just spend spend spend (sometimes I wish we had elected a Republican president...but that's another story for another day).

Now for my main point. Daily Kos quotes a NYTimes article on the President's 60-Day Social Security trek:

Administration officials say they are undaunted and still expect to win the fight. "We're at the halfway mark of our 60-day tour and well beyond our events goal already," Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said on Friday. "The national dialogue that the president called for in the State of the Union is well under way, and Social Security has been elevated to the top of the national political debate. We're making real progress."

(emphasis not mine)
Armando uses this as an excuse to pump up Harry Reid and rip on Tom Delay -- two things I think should be done more often. But I have plenty of beef myself on this issue:

  1. Sham Town Hall Meetings - As a former high school debater, I know that if you can't stand up to your opponent's arguments, you might very well be wrong. Granted, you might very well be unable to defend yourself, but Social Security's problems are actually fairly simple, and a 30 minute session could teach Bush how to counter every argument he might ever get. It doesn't take Americans 60 days to figure this out, which is why...
  2. The Administration's approval ratings are going down, not up. A lot of this has to do with Democratic unity, but Democrats have been unified before and the American public threw them out the door (remember health care?)
  3. This "Everything is on the table" is simply not true, I won't call it a lie just yet. Remember when Bush said in Europe "We are not going to go to war with Iran. Iran is not Iraq. Having said that, everything is on the table." (a misquote, but true to the idea) That was a classic Bushism: if you refuse to flip-flop on even your bad policies, then flip-flop mid-sentence. Now he's saying he's the person with "Everything on the table" and Democrats aren't. Not true. Both sides have 1 reservation. Bush won't raise payroll taxes. Dems won't go with private accounts. Now it is the belief of this blog that payroll taxes shouldn't fund 100% of the Social Security fix, not even close. But many have said that a 2-3% increase in the payroll tax could fix this problem. Remember, employers themselves pay half of that. Increase taxes = job loss? Yes. So don't make that the primary avenue of funding. But if you, Mr President, won't consider it at all, then perhaps you and Dems could "come to the table" without private accounts AND without payroll tax increases. That'd be just peachy.
I'd keep talkin, but you wouldn't keep reading. I'm sure I'll address it at some point in the future.


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