April 30, 2005
LIKE WATCHING GALE SAYERS (*):
Bush Plan Aids Poor, Squeezes the Rest (Peter G. Gosselin, April 30, 2005, LA Times)
As the full dimensions of President Bush's Social Security plan come into view, so too does a broader vision: improving benefits for the poorest Americans while reducing the reliance of everyone else on government programs that long have seen them through economic difficulties.
Although Bush devoted most of his prime-time news conference Thursday to describing how he would expand Social Security protections, virtually all of his improvements would be aimed at the bottom one-third of American wage earners. The remaining two-thirds would see their future Social Security benefits curtailed, a reduction that they'd be encouraged to make up by saving and investing of their own.
The president often portrays his effort as simply trying to accommodate reality; funds to pay full Social Security benefits are expected to run short toward the middle of the century. But his approach also corresponds to a long-held conservative goal of reducing Washington's influence in the lives of ordinary Americans and to the aim of his chief political strategist Karl Rove to realign the nation along Republican principles.
"What you're going to see is an effort to scale back middle-class entitlements that many people do not need and to become more focused on the antipoverty aspects of these programs," said Michael Tanner, an expert on Social Security at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank that advocates small government.
"We're going to tell non-poor Americans that they are going to have to save more on their own and not depend on a transfer from government," he said.
Interesting how neither the Left nor much of the Right grasps just how ambitious the President's Third Way concept of an Ownership Society is. Both hate the idea of government mandated personal responsibility, though the former because it hates government and the latter because it hates personal responsibility. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2005 9:33 AM