Tuesday :: Feb 8, 2005

Public Supports Raising Income Ceiling And Means Testing For Social Security, Not Private Accounts

by Steve

Aside from the other difficulties that Bush will face in getting any traction with his Social Security privatization plan, he is counting on public support and help from some Democrats in the Senate. On both counts, he is facing long odds. In addition, there are fresh signs that Bush is losing control of the agenda with his own allies in Congress.

First, the most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll out today taken over the weekend shows that more than two thirds of those polled support raising the income ceiling subject to Social Security taxation, and means-testing Social Security for higher income retirees. 55% of those polled rejected Bush’s plan to set up private accounts with redirected contributions, as a “bad idea”. CNN noted that this level of opposition is the same as it was a month ago, meaning that Bush has made no headway in a month. What is notable about these results is that raising the income ceiling and means-testing Social Security by themselves would go a long way towards eliminating the solvency problem, meaning that Democrats would be right to hold back on offering to compromise with Bush this early when they know that public opinion is already with them on more measured solutions than those demanded by Bush and the GOP. The Democrats can continue to hammer Bush and the GOP on the malice behind private accounts and peel away wavering Republicans over the coming weeks.

Second, Bush is counting on breaking into the Senate Democratic block to cut a deal, claiming that he wants to work cooperatively with those that want solutions. After yesterday, he’ll be unable to convince Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of that. Days after saying he wanted to work with Democrats, Bush’s handpicked stooge at the RNC Ken Mehlman sent out a smear email on Reid to thousands on the RNC mailing list, in the latest attempt by Rove to “Daschle” Reid, who it turns out had just had dinner with Bush the night before. Any claim by Bush or Ricky Santorum that Mehlman and the RNC operate on their own separate from the White House is laughable on its face, given who got Mehlman his job and Bush’s track record.

I suspect that Reid will be making copies of the 12-page email for the entire Democratic caucus to remind them about how the White House strives for bipartisanship.

And moving around the country in front of crowds of happy, Kool-Aid drinking cult members touting your plan that you yourself cannot explain, using taxpayer dollars to do so won't cut it either.

None of this is lost on his own allies in Congress, where according to Wednesday's New York Times, both Tom DeLay and Bill Thomas are planning to take their time with developing a Social Security plan contrary to the wishes of the White House, which wants something done before Bush is a lame duck.

In other words, DeLay and Thomas can see the writing on the wall that Bush's plan is doomed, and they have decided that Congress will tackle this, not the White House. This may mark the quickest crash and burn of a Rove policy rollout ever, similar to the mission to Mars.

Steve :: 9:56 PM :: Comments (16) :: Digg It!