January 7, 2005


Social Security: The Democrats Need a Plan (E. J. Dionne Jr., January 7, 2005, Washington Post)

[M]any disagree flatly with Bush's definition of the problem: There is no Social Security crisis, these Democrats say. There is a retirement crisis. And, yes, there is a health care crisis. As they see it, Bush is proposing a solution that won't work on an issue that should not be dominating the debate in the first place.

Since Bush has yet to make a specific proposal, even moderate Democrats most eager to offer alternatives are refusing to rush forward until the president is clear about what trade-offs he would make. "Bush has made Social Security reform a centerpiece of his second term, so he's obligated to propose a real plan and not just vague principles that mask the tough decisions," said Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, the think tank of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

But Marshall and many Democrats, liberal as well as moderate, argue that the party cannot simply be reactive to Bush. The goal, says Rep. Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Democrat, should be to offer alternative policies that deal with larger problems than the ones Bush has chosen to identify.

"We should be for a savings revolution in this country," Emanuel said. "The president's plan isn't big enough. He just wants to rearrange the deck chairs. . . . The public's view is of their insecurity about retirement. It's not about their Social Security. They're worried about what they can't see, not what they can see."

Emanuel and his former Clinton administration colleague Gene Sperling have worked on a series of proposals to create new private retirement accounts for workers without pensions. They would not be carved out of Social Security but financed separately.

Great. The GOP help should pass it. Combined with HSA's and means-testing you can basically do away with SS.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 7, 2005 9:32 AM
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