January 18, 2005


Political Divisions Persist After Election: Nation Unsure, Hopeful About Bush, Poll Finds (Richard Morin and Dan Balz, January 18, 2005, Washington Post)

At a time when Democratic leaders are preparing to challenge many of Bush's major initiatives, nearly seven in 10 Americans agree that Bush's victory means that congressional Democrats should compromise with him -- even if it means compromising on their party's principles. Only one in four said Democrats must not compromise on things they find objectionable, even if it means less gets accomplished. [...]

Those surveyed gave Bush negative marks -- 38 percent approval vs. 55 percent disapproval -- for his handling of the Social Security issue, and three in five said the system will not have enough money to pay benefits by the time they retire. But by 54 percent to 41 percent, the public supported a plan that would include a reduction in the rate of growth of guaranteed benefits and private savings accounts financed with a portion of payroll taxes. A proposal with those elements is under consideration by the Bush administration. [...]

Americans divide equally over Bush's proposal to index Social Security benefits for future retirees to increases in the cost of living rather than to wage growth as is now the case, a change that would effectively mean benefits would be lower than currently projected. A clear majority of Americans -- 55 percent -- support the president's proposal to allow younger workers to put some of their Social Security savings into stocks or bonds. When packaged together, the two components draw the support of 54 percent of those surveyed.

The survey suggests that Democratic leaders may be out of step with their rank and file on the severity of the problems facing Social Security. Those leaders are attempting to thwart Bush's plans by saying there is no immediate crisis. But two-thirds of all Democrats said they worry that there is not enough money to keep Social Security funded until they retire.

Those numbers will just keep getting better for the reformers as the Depression generations die off and the 401k generations grow. Given how many vulnerable Senate seats the Democrats have in '06 and the prospects that the war will be over by then and the economy healthy, this is their best shot at cutting a deal that preserves much of SS as a top-down government bureaucracy. They seem incapable of seizing the opportunity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2005 12:14 PM

Once the battle is engaged after the State of the Union speech, any stock market drop of 50 points or more will be treated like Black Friday by Democrats and most of the media, while good news reports will be balanced by features on "those left behind" who will be portrayed as a microcosm of what the entire country could be looking forward to if the market goes down while their money is in private accounts.

Posted by: John at January 18, 2005 1:13 PM

I'm assuming that was hyperobole, because we just had a drop of over 50 points and no one cared.

Posted by: Timothy at January 18, 2005 3:19 PM

Let me get this straight----the public disapproves of Bush's handling of the SS issue (notwithstanding the fact that he has not even begun to make serious speeches about it yet). And the public solidly approves of a SS plan that has the features that Bush has already said that he proposes.

One of these is not like the other.

They don't like the Bush plan, but they do like a plan which has the exact features that are in Bush's plan. Methinks that the MSM is salting the mine again.

Posted by: ray at January 18, 2005 10:47 PM


After the State of the Union Speech, when the debate on Social Security begins in earnest. Right now, the complain of the day is Bush is spending too much on his inauguration during a time of war, though we may also have to wait after the SOTU addrees for the "failed Iraqi elections" talking points to get out of the way before the "terror of the unpredictable stock market" stories will begin in earnest.

Posted by: John at January 18, 2005 11:11 PM

Someone should ask Terry McAuliffe about investing in the stock market. Would he endorse such a return for everyone? Or just FOBs?

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 18, 2005 11:47 PM


They don't like that he4 hasn't passed it yet--he ran on it in '00 after all.

Posted by: oj at January 19, 2005 7:49 AM