03/10/2005: Duhhh...Just Say NO!
Just Say NO by Paul Krugman (Ny Times) is a great assessment of why Bush's Soc. Sec. finagling and attempts to "pull the deficit wool over the public's eyes" over Social Security is falling flat:
"In short, anyone who wants to see the nation return to fiscal responsibility, wants to preserve Social Security as an institution or both should be opposed to any deal creating private accounts. And there is also, of course, the political question: Why should any Democrat act as a spoiler when his party is doing well by doing good, gaining political ground by opposing a really bad idea? (Hello, Senator Lieberman.) And the public is responding with this "Duh" moment with a resounding of lack of enthusiam for the "Bush Non-Plan Specifics" regarding this fictional "crisis". In Bush Misplayed Hand E.J. Dionne (Washington Post) explains the collective problems with the Bush Message:
The important thing to remember is why the right wants privatization. The drive to create private accounts isn't about finding a way to strengthen Social Security; it's about finding a way to phase out a system that conservatives have always regarded as illegitimate. And as long as that is what's at stake, there is no room for any genuine compromise. When it comes to privatization, just say no.
"American politics has been so corrupted by concepts such as "positioning" and "message discipline" that citizens don't get credit for their ability to decide issues on the merits. But when the public knows and cares a great deal about what's at stake, it is quite discerning about what's true and what's not.
That's why President Bush's troubles on Social Security cannot be explained by some alleged failure of the White House's usually impeccable communications operation. Conventional explanations fail because this is a battle over principle in which the facts matter.
So far the president has made at least four mistakes. He assumed he could convince the country that Social Security faces a crisis requiring urgent action. He thought he could accentuate the positive -- those "personal accounts" really do sound great -- without laying out what they would cost. He counted on getting good-government points by "facing up" to Social Security's long-term problems without proposing any hard steps to fix them. And he figured that some Democrats would fall his way simply because that's what has always happened before.
Where does this leave a president? Dropping his call for private accounts carved out of Social Security would allow him to win bipartisan approval for moderate fixes to make the retirement system solvent for decades. Alternatively, he could put forward a serious and detailed plan for private accounts and invite an honest and instructive philosophical face-off with the Democrats on the future of social insurance. The lesson of the first round of the Social Security debate is that the public won't bet on Bush's ideas until he reveals the cards he's holding back..."
Karen on 03.10.05 @ 05:43 AM CST