Democrats’ “Progressive” Social Security Resistance

January 14, 2005

Just when you hear there might be some new thinking in the Democratic Party we read — in The New Republic — that:

It is getting increasingly difficult to find any Democrat who backs President Bush’s plan for partially privatizing Social Security. Private accounts are now officially out of favor even among New Democrats, the most obvious source of potential administration support. The Democratic Leadership Council and a new centrist policy shop called Third Way both recently announced their opposition.

Why is this? Why are they drawing such an immovable line in the sand on this issue?

Well, we can get insight into their thinking by reference to MoveOn’s assessment. MSNBC’s First Read reports:

Cue the latest from MoveOn, which has decided to get involved in the Social Security fight. An “initial e-mail to supporters,” as one spokesperson calls it, claims Social Security is “the crown jewel of progressive government.” The e-mail asks recipients to sign an e-petition in hopes of delivering 200,000 “signatures” to Congress after the inauguration. The spokesperson advises, “Stay tuned for major activity.”

One phrase in there is particularly significant: Social Security is “the crown jewel of progressive government.” It’s as if they’re saying,

“It doesn’t matter how disastrous Social Security’s future will be; it doesn’t matter how much it will drain the federal budget and send deficits to geometric heights — though we otherwise pretend to be deficit hawks. What matters is that we are Democrats and this is one of our signature programs. For us to abandon this would be tantamount to abandoning one of our reasons for existence. It would be like taking the Ten Commandments out of the Bible. It would be like losing a significant percentage of the African-American vote — which we might jeopardize, by the way, if we abandon our commitment to this failed system.

Even the annoying New Democrats among us realize that without this major plank remaining in our platform our party will stand for even less than it does today. We have to defend Social Security and we have to paint Republicans as trying to transfer wealth from the aged and the poor to their friends on Wall Street. It doesn’t matter how utterly ridiculous that is; it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t even make sense. What matters is that we cannot afford to allow the Republicans to steal this issue away from us.

It would be one thing for them to try to abolish Social Security. If they would take that position at least it would be a fair fight. But they actually are trying innovative solutions — with a tinge of free market capitalism sprinkled in — to try to save Social Security. Well, over our dead bodies. It’s not their’s to save. This is our program. FDR and his legacy doesn’t belong to them.

As a matter of fact, FDR’s grandson, voiced his objection to President Bush purloining his granddad’s legacy on this proprietary issue for Democrats. James Roosevelt protested Bush using FDR’s image in a TV ad to support that insidious SS partial-privatization plan. So remember, Social Security is ours and we will not relinquish it before the Christians abolish the Apostles’ Creed.”

So I guess it’s clear that we can expect a fight to the death on President Bush’s Social Security plan. The “progressives” are bound and determined to be regressive.