April 30, 2004


Bush, Kerry Avoid Domestic Issue No. 1: Boomer Retirement (Mort Kondracke, April 30, 2004, Real Clear Politics)

The Bush and Kerry campaigns are playing the public for fools, avoiding one of the biggest questions in America's future: how to finance the retirement of the baby boom generation.

It's a monstrous problem that will either break the American economy or - if addressed creatively and soon - revitalize it. Demographically, there is no avoiding the crisis, even if current politicians are scared to death about tackling it.

The boomers, 77 million of them, will begin retiring in just six years, drawing huge Medicare and Social Security benefits. Right now, the taxes of just three workers support the benefits payable to each current retiree, compared to 16 workers back in 1950. When most of the boomers are retired, the burden will be carried by just two workers.

The choice is simple. Cut the benefits, tax the hell out of the boomers' children - or figure out better ways of sharing the burden.

In fact, some good (if controversial) ideas have been proposed, many at the New America Foundation, a independent centrist think tank. They include lifetime savings accounts, means-tested Medicare, a policy of stimulating healthier lifestyles and less-costly but better-quality medicine, and efforts to encourage greater birth rates and higher immigration levels to grow the nation's population.

Mr. Kondracke is a nice enough fellow, but one of those mysteriously unable to comprehend the revolutionary nature of the Bush presidency:
Gathering Forces for Historic Reform (Peter Ferrara, January 21, 2004, Townhall)
President Bush last night put personal accounts for Social Security on the top shelf of the national agenda.  Few people now recognize how enormous this initiative can be, with powerfully beneficial effects reverberating throughout our economy and society.

But the incredible historic opportunity now on the horizon is recognized by a new coalition of conservative and progressive leaders to be announced today.

 The President in his speech made clear that he believes the looming problems of Social Security must be addressed now, not put off to just get worse and worse.  Moreover, the President said, he means to solve the problems through the positive approach of a personal account option, and all of its advantages for working people, rather than the negatives of tax increases and benefit cuts.

The President emphasized some of these positive themes, pointing out that a major personal account initiative would greatly expand and broaden wealth ownership, as well as freedom of choice and control.  He also made absolutely clear that the reform would involve no change for todayís seniors, or anyone anywhere near retirement.  The point of the reform is to improve the future for todayís younger workers, who suffer the prospects of a sharply deteriorating Social Security program.

Health Savings Accounts great plan for health care (Terry Savage, January 22, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)
The Health Savings Account was hidden away in the prescription drug bill passed by Congress last December. But unlike the seriously flawed drug plan, the Health Savings Account is an exciting concept that could make health insurance available -- affordable -- for millions of Americans who aren't covered by an employer plan.

Remarks by the President on Immigration Policy (The East Room, 1/07/04):
our country has always benefited from the dreams that others have brought here. By working hard for a better life, immigrants contribute to the life of our nation. The temporary worker program I am proposing today represents the best tradition of our society, a society that honors the law, and welcomes the newcomer. This plan will help return order and fairness to our immigration system, and in so doing we will honor our values, by showing our respect for those who work hard and share in the ideals of America.

President Bush Signs Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003  (The Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C., 11/05/03)
America stands for liberty, for the pursuit of happiness and for the unalienable right of life. And the most basic duty of government is to defend the life of the innocent. Every person, however frail or vulnerable, has a place and a purpose in this world. Every person has a special dignity. This right to life cannot be granted or denied by government, because it does not come from government, it comes from the Creator of life. (Applause.)

In the debate about the rights of the unborn, we are asked to broaden the circle of our moral concern. We're asked to live out our calling as Americans. We're asked to honor our own standards, announced on the day of our founding in the Declaration of Independence. We're asked by our convictions and tradition and compassion to build a culture of life, and make this a more just and welcoming society.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2004 11:02 AM

Kondracke is either lazy (for not seeing the previous Bush statement's on this issue) or grinding a partisan axe (he seems to lean left).
An advantage of the blogosphere is that it is fairly easy to catch writers/pundits on these goofs.

Posted by: AWW at April 30, 2004 11:13 AM


Posted by: oj at April 30, 2004 11:19 AM

Morton's problem is that anything not involving massive government spending can not possibly be a solution.

Posted by: jd watson at April 30, 2004 11:25 AM

OJ - sorry, I certainly didn't mean to minimize your efforts. I, and I'm sure many others, are very grateful for your and other blogger's efforts to find this info and post it.

Posted by: AWW at April 30, 2004 12:00 PM

On this issue (and other domestic ones), Kondracke rejects any privatization out of hand, so Bush's proposals are mere aether. Even if he could repeat Bush's words verbatim, they don't really exist.

I predict that the Democrats will fully endorse means-testing of SSI by 2008. The proposed tax increases will come later. The only questions are whether they will stop at 10%, and whether or not they will propose "progressive" rates.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 30, 2004 12:22 PM

Kondrake's actually gotten more conservative oin recent years - having to defend your positions four times a week to Britt Hume may have something to do with that -- but while he's more disapproving of the Democrats nowadays than 5-10 years ago, his heart's still with the party. So you get a lot of these "A pox on both your houses" columns, whene both parties are given moral equivalency, even if it requires ignoring what is being attempted on the Republican side.

Posted by: John at April 30, 2004 11:42 PM