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June 22, 2005

Bush Acquieces: No Personal Accounts In Social Security Reform

He tried. That's something. But he failed:

With the acquiescence of their leaders, key House Republicans are drafting Social Security legislation stripped of President Bush's proposed personal accounts financed with payroll taxes and lacking provisions aimed at assuring long-term solvency.

Instead, according to officials familiar with the details, the measure showcases a promise, designed to reassure seniors, that Social Security surplus funds will be held inviolate, available only to create individual accounts that differ sharply from Bush's approach.

Under current law, any Social Security payroll tax money not used to finance monthly benefits is in effect lent by Social Security to the Treasury, which uses it to finance other government programs. Government actuaries say the surplus is expected to vanish in 2017 when benefit payments exceed payroll taxes collected.

In addition, the GOP bill "doesn't deal with solvency," according to another official, indicating it would avoid the difficult choices of curbs on benefits, higher taxes or changes in the retirement age needed to implement the president's call for long-term financial stability.

Not really sure what the new "reform" actually does, then. Ah, well-- it's the job of government to do nothing and then call it "reform." It's what they do best. When they attempt to do more, they get into trouble.

On Brit Hume (I think) it was speculated that this might be an attempt at putting the Democrats in a put-up or shut-up position. Now that the GOP is letting them have their way on private accounts -- which is almost all we've talked about with regard to Social Security reform -- they will have to (one would hope) propose their preferred reforms to make SS solvent.

They will no longer have the luxury of simply saying "No" to substantive proposials; they'll have to suggest their own, and we'll see how the public likes those.

Again, one would hope. A fair-and-balanced media would require them to actually make positive proposals now that they've scored their victory through truculence. Somehow, though, I don't foresee there being many stories castigating them for inaction when they, as I imagine they will, fail to offer up any counter-proposals of their own.


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posted by Ace at 12:54 PM

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