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June 23, 2005

Wash Post Asks, "Okay, Dems, What Have You Got on Social Security?"

A somewhat-surprising editorial, a little less surprising because 1) the Washington Post is quite liberal, but not completely in the bag for the Democrats like the New York Times is, and 2) this is the ultimate goo-goo (good-government) issue, and they (again unlike the New York Times) actually elevate their goo-goo-ism over partisan politics.

THE DEMOCRATS are positively giddy over their success in foiling President Bush's Social Security plan. As a political matter, perhaps they have reason to cheer: Polls show Americans dubious about his proposed changes, and the president appears suddenly open to solutions that do not include his signature personal accounts.

...But after the confetti settles, Democrats need to ask themselves: Now what? Having beaten back private accounts, as it appears they have, is it enough to keep sticking their fingers in their ears while saying "no"?


The only Democratic proposal on the table, from Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida, is a lopsided measure that would address Social Security solvency solely by raising taxes. Responsible proposals from Democratic economists that would blend benefit cuts and tax increases have gotten nowhere with Democratic lawmakers.

Mr. Bush, by contrast, has deviated from no-new-taxes orthodoxy to the extent of signaling a willingness to increase the payroll tax ceiling. And he took the political risk -- a risk Democrats gleefully exploited -- of endorsing a progressive indexing proposal with benefit cuts. That's a route that, in a less partisan climate, many Democrats would have endorsed, at least in part, because it protects the poor. It's also the route Mr. Bennett wants to go, along with indexing benefits to growing life expectancy, but the flaw in his plan is the mirror image of the problem with the Wexler proposal: He wants to solve the problem entirely by cutting benefits.

No doubt Democrats' political instincts will be against engaging at this point: Why bail out Mr. Bush now, the strategists will argue, and let him claim that he led the way to putting Social Security on the path to solvency? Why endorse spinach when it's so much more fun -- and politically useful -- to point out the spinach in the other side's plan? ...

But there is also the little matter of what's right for the country. Failing to act now will make the problem harder to fix down the road; cuts or tax increases will have to be steeper the longer the problem goes unaddressed.

Full editorial here, though the rest of it is Republican bashing. It's a pox on both houses sort of piece, which is still nice to get from the likes of the Washington Post editorial board.

And it's terrific that it seems some influential voices in the MSM actually will attempt to press the Democrats on their (thusfar nonexistant) plan for Social Security.

Because honestly-- whoever gets the credit, the system has to be fixed.

Via The New Editor.

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