Will Bush Offer Real Social Security Solutions Tonight?
OK, we are now being told that Bush will devote the first 10-12 minutes of his press conference tonight to finally offer specifics on his ideas for dealing with Social Security’s long-term solvency problem.
Bush was to "talk in more specific ways about his ideas for making Social Security permanently sound," McClellan said. Up to now, the president has only been willing to mention ideas that others have proposed to bridge the coming gap between Social Security revenues and obligations without giving any hint as to which ones — if any — he supports.
"There will be some new proposals that he will talk about that he believes ought to be part of any solution," McClellan said.
By the way, private accounts do not fit the description of "new proposals", so what is going on here? It sounds like Bush will come out in support of the Pozen "progressive price indexing" proposal, which as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities noted yesterday, would result if implemented with private accounts in a drastic benefit reduction for most beneficiaries.
So if the focus tonight is to talk about how to make Social Security "permanently sound", then I assume that private accounts will not come up, right? And if he uses tonight to push private accounts once again, then we will know that after 60 days of a road trip in front of Stepford crowds and resulting declining poll numbers, that he isn’t serious about dealing with the system’s solvency.
He’ll also talk about his lame-assed, ill-conceived energy plan to build refineries on closed military bases, on the same day that the market went down due to a softening economy being crushed by rising oil prices that have been off Bush’s radar screen for four years.
But is there a remote chance that Bush will actually push a solution or two that will deal with solvency and not bring up private accounts?
What do you think?
Update: It is being leaked out already by the White House that Bush in fact will propose the Pozen progressive price indexing scheme, coupled with private accounts, a scheme that the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said yesterday will ensure large benefit cuts for all beneficiaries (see link above). And when expected Medicare premium increases are calculated into the mix, it results in a further cut for beneficiaries. Bush is clearly trying to buy the support of lower-income beneficiaries by telling them that he is increasing their benefit while taking benefits from the higher income groups. But as the CBPP and others note, tying the Pozen indexing proposal to private accounts ensures very large benefit cuts for all wage groups when compared to the current program.
So as we suspected, despite the rhetoric tonight, Bush has no intention of giving up private accounts, and we'll have to see if a reporter asks him how he plans to pay for them and how much debt there will be.
But do you think any reporter tonight will have the guts or smarts to ask him 1) how much of a reduction in benefits will there be under this scheme as compared to the current program; and 2) how are you going to pay for the private accounts?