If there’s one thing we’ve learned the last four years, to our immense gratification, it is that President Bush is not easily intimidated by his demagogic critics. While they depict him as stubborn, I see him as resolute. While they portray him as close-minded, I regard him as visionary and determined. He sets his course and plows forward — as we’ve seen with a host of policies, including his tax plan and the War on Terror.
Early on he committed to partially privatizing Social Security and he is sticking with it, notwithstanding ceaseless barrages of criticism. In his radio address Saturday, he reaffirmed his pledge to infuse the Social Security mix with the option of privately held funds. Contrary to what liberals are saying, the president says the SS system will be paying out more money that it takes in in less than 15 years.
As usual, Democrats are choosing to sacrifice the long term for the short term, focusing on the supposed $1 trillion in transition costs that could result with the implementation of the Bush plan. More than that, Democrats are alleging that the president is advocating partial privatization as a gift to Wall Street.
This is even more childish than their usual sniping. Can you imagine the president — on purpose — allowing the thrust of his second term political capital to be used to create a windfall for big corporations at the expense of America’s future retirees — not to mention at the expense of his presidential legacy? It is almost too foolish for words, but the fact that Democrats seriously level the charge is proof that they think very little of the people they intend to deceive with such rubbish.
The amount of irresponsibility Democrats are displaying on this issue is staggering. Just a few short years ago Al Gore et al were clamoring for a Social Security lock box. No one on either side of the aisle denied our entitlement programs were approaching crisis. Bipartisan commissions urged dramatic action and pleaded with the parties not to sacrifice America’s future for the sake of the untouchable Third Rail. Afflicted with short-term memory loss or just proving their insincerity in the first place, Democrats are standing in the way of the president’s courageous plan to remedy the problem.
The president’s plan is based on three principles: 1) the benefits of those at or near retirement would not be effected; 2) Payroll taxes should not be raised because this will retard the economy (and conflict with his overall supply-side strategy); and 3) partial privatization.
Politically speaking, the easiest thing for the president to do would be to abandon this plan and the temporary pain it might require to salvage the system. But President Bush is not looking for the easy way out. My only hope is that enough Republicans have the courage to join him to push through this necessary reform.