March 20, 2006


Social Security reform rejected (Amy Fagan, March 20, 2006, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Last week, during the Senate budget debate, Republicans raised the issue of Social Security reform, and Democrats -- surprised that the issue won't go away -- pledged to make it a major campaign issue this year. [...]

Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, offered the proposal, which would have let Congress create a reserve fund protected under budget rules to save the Social Security surplus to pay for future benefits instead of other federal programs, as happens now.

"There is simply no way to save Social Security if we don't have the courage to stop using the surplus as a secret slush fund," Mr. DeMint said. "We will not be deterred by cynics who offer no solutions."

The Senate defeated the proposal 53-46, with eight Republicans voting no, but Democrats still called it a step towards creating the Social Security private accounts that President Bush wants.

Mr. Schumer pledged to tell voters that electing a Democratic Senate is the only way to "make sure Social Security isn't privatized."

"Any time there's an opportunity to privatize Social Security, they'll take it," said Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat. He said the DeMint proposal was "evidence today that they're going to stick with it."

Mr. Bush's proposal to let individuals divert a part of the Social Security's payroll tax into personal retirement accounts was "soundly rejected by the American people," yet Republicans still pursue it, Mr. Baucus said.

Perhaps Mr. Baucus didn't notice, but George Bush won two presidential elections on SS privatization. The American people have soundly endorsed it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 20, 2006 12:49 PM

Baucus is a moderate Dem who keeps winning reelection from a deep red state (Montana). Why shouldn't he think that the Dems can continue to block SS reform and not get away with it?

Posted by: AWW at March 20, 2006 1:39 PM

Heard a radio ad the other day with a phrase that might do well to replace "privatize": " account registered exclusively in your name that holds your personal account balance."

Run a poll on that and see who doesn't want it. (other than Schumer and his pals, that is.)

Posted by: John Resnick at March 20, 2006 2:18 PM

AWW - Why don't the Republicans put up a good candidate to talk about SS reform and other important issues like ANWR, Nuclear Power, getting rid of the Depts of Ed, Labor, etc. Montana doesn't sound like it would be full of liberals, other than the rich ones who have huge ranches there, of course.

Posted by: erp at March 20, 2006 2:19 PM

Erp - that's the question - why states like Montana, the Dakotas, and so forth vote heavily for GOP presidents but then continue to send Dems to the Senate. One theory is that these states are heavily dependent on agriculture/other fed programs and look for pork champions.

GOP thought they had a shot at Baucus in 2002 but Racicot wouldn't run and they couldn't get a decent candidate. And there is speculation the GOP Senator (Burns) might be defeated this year.

Posted by: AWW at March 20, 2006 3:14 PM

Bush lost the popular vote in 2000; his election, though valid, was a fluke. He won re-election in 2004 because of the war. The American people have given no mandate on Social Security.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at March 20, 2006 6:44 PM


He beat a sitting VP in time of unprecedented peace and prosperity and has since increased the GOP majority two cycles in a row for the first time in history and won a historic re-election despite an unpopular war. The Third Way is popular across the Anglosphere.

Posted by: oj at March 20, 2006 6:54 PM

AWW, It may be a variation of NIMBY liberals voting Republican in local elections to mitigate the burden of leftwing programs on their home towns. In Montana, Republicans want some of the federal pork, so they vote for Democratic congress critters.

Posted by: erp at March 20, 2006 7:25 PM

Chris - there may be no mandate but polls increasingly show people willing to try plans other than SS, especially as their own experience with 401Ks sinks in. And obviously the younger generations are more receptive to change than the older generation. The problem is that by the time all of the overblown rhetoric of a campaign gets done its hard to get anything passed.

I still think the GOP should put together an ad showing the Dems applauding no SS reform during the SOTU.

Posted by: AWW at March 20, 2006 7:54 PM

Liddy Dole beat Erskine Bowles in NC in 2002 by holding up a blank sheet of paper and telling everyone it was her opponent's plan for SS.

Pat Toomey won three House elections in the Lehigh Valley in PA and almost beat Arlen Specter in the 2004 primary, and he was not afraid to talk about SS.

The Democrats have the ghost of FDR and no idea what to do. They can't demonize the electorate any more, not with so many people owning stock and the growing awareness that SS is at risk.

Bush could have passed something this time, if it had been fought for - it was Republican timidity that withered any SS reform, not Democratic strategy. The Dems would have had to gamble a filibuster in the Senate against the appearance of doing nothing (actually worse than nothing). It would not have served them in the 2006 elections. And their applause during the SOTU will haunt them for years to come.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 20, 2006 10:23 PM