Sunday, May 01, 2005

Kudos to Bush?

I will be the first to speak when I disagree with Bush, so it is only fair that I give the guy his props on the rare occasion that I agree with him.

Michael Kinsley has offered a magnanimous olive branch to the Republicans and I think the Democrats should heed his advice. Bush has inexplicably taken on Social Security, a federal program with a few problems; when other programs—Medicare and Medicaid-- are arguably in much more desperate shape. Let’s give Bush the progressive SS fix and privatization, as long as it’s voluntary. Then we can move onto more pressing issues…

Kinsley states:

"Even more to Bush's credit, the plan he's backing is highly progressive. Benefits for low-income workers would keep rising with average wages, as now, but benefits for middle- and high-income people would be geared more toward merely keeping up with inflation. This allows Bush to say that no one's benefits will be cut, although some people will be getting as much as 40 percent less than they are currently promised. But in the swamp of Social Security politics, that is really minimal protection from the alligators.

So Democrats now face a choice: Are they going to be alligators on this one? Why Bush has taken this on remains a mystery. There is no short-term political advantage, and there are other real long-term problems that are more pressing. But he has done it, to his credit.

As this column has argued to the point of stupefaction, Bush's privatization ideas are a mathematical fraud. There is no way that allowing people to manage part of the money they put into the system can produce a surplus to supplement their benefits or cushion the shock of the necessary cuts. But if privatization is truly voluntary, it can't do much harm. And if that is Bush's price for being out front on a real solution to the real problem, the Democrats should let him have it."

Kinsley goes on to opine that the Democrats know deep in their hearts that SS must change eventually, so why not let Bush take the heat—that’s what he is paid to do after all. This is not to say the Democratic leadership will be wise enough to heed Kinsley's advice; they seem to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Sen Reid, Rep Pelosi, are you listening?

2 comments:

jillian said...

Don't give Bush kudo's. He's completely irresponsible.

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But don't worry, be happy, Bush insisted four years ago. He could avoid those nasty options, push through a big tax cut and create private accounts because the large budget surpluses built up during Bill Clinton's presidency would allow us to have it all.

"There's enough money to take care of Social Security," Bush said during the 2000 primaries. "There is enough money to meet the basic needs of our government. And there is enough money to give the American people a substantial tax cut, and that's what I intend to do."

Grodge said...

Yes, you are correct.