If House Dems Want To Deal On Social Security, Stick To Basic Principles
Nothing new on Social Security yet, as the black smoke...eh...oops, sorry, Iím getting my pope-watch breaking news updates confused with internal negotiations among House Democrats on Social Security. There was an AP story over the weekend, which reported that House Democrats, fresh off of two sell-out votes on the estate tax giveaway and anti-consumer pro-banking changes to the bankruptcy laws, have been reading the tea leaves (e.g.-polls) and have now decided that the time is right to come to the table on Social Security.
Reflect on that a moment: the same people who didnít pay attention to their base or the facts on bankruptcy or the estate tax are now paying attention to focus groups as a cover for throwing Bush a lifeline on Social Security. And it comes at a time that Bush sees the need to firm up his own support on the issue in a red state today, back in front of Stepford crowds.
Nonetheless, I agree with Josh on this, and it goes back to what we said weeks ago on this issue. Itís all well and good to start talking with the White House about solutions to the Social Security funding challenge, as long as House Democrats stick hard and fast to basic principles. Those principles must include the principle that solvency will be addressed within the current program only, before private accounts are considered as an add-on. This means that yes, there will be an increase in the withholding taxation ceiling from its current $90,000 annual ceiling to something above $120,000 at least, and there will be changes to how benefits are calculated and for whom. Once solvency is addressed within the current program only, then, and only then should private accounts be considered as an add-on benefit, fully paid for without 1) taking money from the current program; 2) new debt; or 3) budget cuts to domestic programs. If this is the approach, then fine.
But after the last two weeks, does anyone expect the Blue Dog or New Democrat Coalition types within Nancy Pelosiís caucus to protect Social Security and deal with its solvency within the current program first, and then deal with private accounts second and separately?
And now back to our regularly scheduled smoke watching.