Monday, January 10, 2005

Bush's Quagmire

George Bush may be falling into a quagmire. I'm not speaking of Iraq, but of Social Security. Tuesday's Washington Post contains an article on Republicans who question Bush's plans to change the Social Security program, noting that few voted for Bush based upon this issue. It is estimated that about forty members of the House may not go along with the plan. Republicans outside of Congress also question the wisdom of Bush's plans:

Outside of Congress, several party activists are sounding similar alarms after word spread last week that Bush is planning to reduce future benefits as part of the restructuring. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) is warning that Republicans could lose their 10-year House majority if the White House follows through with that proposal.

William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, is challenging the president's assertions that Social Security is in crisis and that Republicans will be rewarded for fixing it. Republicans are privately "bewildered why this is such a White House priority," he said. "I am a skeptic politically and a little bit substantively."

If Bush procedes with his plans to concentrate on Social Security in his second term, this might turn out to be a win-win situation for Democrats. Bush could wind up using up his "political capital" on a program which is fated to go down to defeat, and could provide an issue which could help Democrats running in future election cycles. It is much better that Bush spend his time on plans which are unlikely to pass Congress than other priorities such as the tax code or Medicare.

Medicare represents a greater challenge than Social Security, but after seeing Bush's health care proposals to date, I'm glad he's ignoring that issue for now. While a fix is needed in the future, any changes from George Bush are likely to do more harm than good. Procrastination until we have a new President (assuming a successor of either party is likely to be an improvement) appears to be the safest course of action.

1 Comments:

Blogger IFK Editor said...

Social Security will give the Dems an 800 lb gorilla to hang around Bush's neck, as the destroyer of the public's most beloved public program.

Dems can also use the issue to boost their own image on moral grounds as they work to save the best example of real government "compassionate conservatism": caring for your neighbor and making sure the disabled and elderly are looked after.

This is a gift horse if the Dems get organized with a coherent message. Talk about values...talk about our ideals. Dems created Social security 70 years ago. It's a democratic legacy.

Who do you trust? FDR Democrats or Enron Republicans?

9:13 AM  

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