A Bit More on Social Security

Does this sound familiar?

An administration official said, "There’s a substantial chance that by March, the Republicans will be attacking the Democrats as socialists and Democrats will be accusing Republicans of wanting your grandmother to survive on cat food."

That was November, 1998. Clinton was pushing for Social Security reform. Sounds a bit like the sniping now. Back in the late 1990’s Clinton said that Social Security needed to be saved. The Democrats were behind it. Republicans blocked it. The reverse is true today. There is a difference, though. Plans are being offered by President Bush. He is willing to listen to folks from both sides of the fence. He has facts and figures. And, Democrats today, unlike Republicans then, are dismissing any SS reform out of hand, without even listening nor reading the proposals. Also, the backing by the GOP is much stronger today then the backing by the DNC then. Add in to that that the national mood supports SS reform, even if by a slim margin:

Despite a drumbeat of criticism for weeks by congressional Democrats and a concerted public relations campaign by powerful interest groups such as the AARP against Social Security choice, 51 percent of those polled by Zogby support the introduction of individual accounts. Only 39 percent opposed individual accounts being part of any Social Security reform.

Not surprisingly, the results showed a split along age lines, with younger voters (61 percent among those under 30, 58 percent of those under 50) strongly in favor of individual accounts, while those over 65 were opposed (55 percent against). However, opposition by seniors dropped to just 45 percent if they were assured that their own benefits would not be affected.

51% overall, 61% for under 30, and 58% for under 58. Rather solid numbers. What we need now is discussion, and plans. We need Democrats to work with us, not poo poo any ideas out of hand.

In his 1998 State of the Union address, President Clinton waved his pen at the assembled Congress and declared that we must "save Social Security first." Democrats have since generally clung to that vision.

But now, in an ill-conceived effort to derail President Bush’s privatization initiative, many prominent Democrats are suddenly dismissing the notion of a Social Security crisis or even a Social Security problem. Instead of offering sensible alternatives to the president’s flawed proposals, Democrats are devoting their energies to attacking both the president’s ideas and any notion of altering the Social Security construct.

Plans and ideas are not raising taxes. However, attempting to derail reform before it gets out of the gate is a plan. A piss poor one. It is one that will alienate a large base of the democratic party, Blacks and Hispanics, who rely on SS more then any other sub population. The DNC is already alienating the swing voters, and the more moderate folks that normally vote Democrat. How bad will it be if, and probably when, Dean becomes chair?

What we are talking about is 4% of what we normally have taken out of our checks being placed in higher yield markets. Those accounts will be untouchable till retirement. They will be highly regulated to avoid impropriety. They will be long term, stable investments. Can things go wrong? Sure. That is a risk that must be taken.

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One Response to “A Bit More on Social Security”

  1. Wow, a well thought out post that’s informative. Keep up the good work.

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