May 1, 2005
RIGHT WHERE HE WANTS THEM:
Bush takes on still more political risk (Linda Feldmann, 5/02/05, The Christian Science Monitor)
George W. Bush is a well-known risk-taker - and well-known for not giving up when he has a bee in his bonnet.
As with Iraq, so with Social Security, the president has made clear that he is pressing ahead in his goal of dramatic change. Even though his much-vaunted "60-day, 60-stop" barnstorming campaign to sell the public on Social Security reform has ended, the events continue without a break.
On Tuesday, Bush will hold a "conversation on strengthening Social Security" at a Nissan manufacturing plant in Canton, Miss., and on Wednesday, Social Security will be the focus when he appears at the Latino Coalition's Small Business Conference here in Washington.
The only alteration will be the message: He has heightened public attention to Social Security's eventual shortfalls and made his pitch for "voluntary personal retirement accounts." Now, despite solid Democratic opposition to his plan and slippage in polls, Bush is ready to start addressing the system's solvency issue with a plan to reduce benefits for 70 percent of future retirees, while keeping low-income workers out of poverty.
"He doesn't have anything to lose," says John Zogby, an independent pollster. "But oddly enough, he still could emerge a winner on this by compromise, by being the guy who moved the dime on the issue. We're talking about indexing according to inflation, we're talking about raising the retirement issue. Those were equally third-rail pieces of Social Security, and now they're on the table, at least."
Indeed, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center agrees that Bush has succeeded at least in putting Social Security on the public's radar screen. A center poll in February found that three-quarters of Americans want the government to act on the system's eventual shortcomings either right away or in the next few years.
Just keep pushing and they'll come to the table sooner or later--when they do you've won. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 1, 2005 10:34 PM