December 20, 2006


Bush Sees 'Opportunities' on Social Security, Immigration (Michael A. Fletcher, 12/20/06, Washington Post)

Signaling a new flexibility on issues in the wake of the Democrats' wins, Bush said he is willing to discuss Democratic ideas for solving the Social Security problem, including tax increases. "I don't see how you can move forward without people feeling comfortable about putting ideas on the table," Bush said when asked about the prospect of tax increases to keep Social Security solvent. "I have made it clear that I have a way forward that can do it [without raising taxes] and I want to hear other people's opinions." [...]

Bush's new flexibility on Social Security is part of a larger White House plan to renew the effort to tame the rising costs of government entitlement programs as the nation's population ages. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., who enjoys strong credibility among Democrats and Republicans, has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to talk about restructuring Social Security, emphasizing that there are no preconceptions.

Administration officials have said the White House is willing to listen to other ideas, including personal savings accounts that do not involve diverting Social Security payroll taxes, as well as higher payroll taxes to help cover the expected growth in the program's costs. Still, Bush emphasized that young workers should be allowed to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into private retirement accounts, a proposal that went nowhere in Congress last year. [...]

While Bush touted prospects for compromise with Democrats, his chief economic adviser warned yesterday that the new Congress poses the "biggest risk," potentially, to the nation's robust economy. Edward P. Lazear, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters that he is worried that Democratic lawmakers may try to raise taxes or enact "isolationist" trade policies that could steer the country toward recession.

"The president, of course, as you know, is very strongly opposed to any tax increases and will be effective in holding the line on any tax increases," Lazear said.

You aren't supposed to whipsaw them until they walk into the trap.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 20, 2006 9:01 AM

Of course the usual suspects on the Right went ballistic over this yesterday.

Can the Right really not see that tax hikes are short-term, and can easily be overturned, but that SS reform will never be overturned and would be central in the conversion of the country away from the FDR state?

It's truly astonishing sometimes how dim they are.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 20, 2006 11:08 AM