Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bush Keeps Pushing Privitization

There are so many troubling aspects to this article in today's Washington Post I hardly know where to begin.

What is behind Bush's insistence that this huge change in Social Security occur? I heard that he has been running on this plank since his first Congressional run in the late 1970s. I know that Social Security--a "big government handout"--has always been anathema to conservatives. But you have a large majority of Americans opposed to the idea, you even have Senator Frist, the majority leader, saying it's got to wait. Now, in response to that, the dogs have really been let loose:

Despite polls showing support for the plan slipping, Bush is confident he is winning the first phase of the public debate over Social Security and has no plans to significantly alter his strategy for enacting the most dramatic changes ever to the venerable system, said senior White House officials who have talked to Bush. Several congressional Republicans, however, said they do not share Bush's optimism and questioned his strategy for enacting changes this year.

Once again the President is living in la-la land. His attitude--with everything from the war in Iraq to this--seems to be "if only I believe it hard enough it must be true! And if I repeat it often enough, everybody else will believe it too!"

One day after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said the Senate might not meet Bush's year-end deadline, the White House announced plans to step up its effort to pressure lawmakers into action by dispatching Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials to 60 events in 60 days. Cheney, in particular, will assume a larger role in the effort, including attending town hall meetings with GOP lawmakers.

The pressure builds. And who knows what's going on behind the scenes... Well, we get a little glimpse of what some of it might be:

The White House is also intensifying efforts to enlist the help of its business supporters. At a private meeting last Thursday, senior adviser Karl Rove signaled to lobbyists that a group run by Business Roundtable, which plans to raise $20 million to promote personal accounts, should be viewed as the White House's muscle in the business community, participants said. Snow huddled this week with the top lobbyists for Fortune 500 companies, some of whom have shown tepid interest in getting involved in the debate.

So business, which really would be the winner in the President's new plan, is getting the squeeze. And Rove is pulling the strings. And money is being spent to "persuade."

And then there's this:

After the meeting, DeLay lashed out at AARP, the seniors group that has led opposition to the Bush plan. "It's incredibly irresponsible of the AARP to be against a solution that hasn't even been written yet and running ads trying to convince people that personal retirement accounts is like going to Las Vegas and playing the lottery," he told reporters. "The Democrats have decided that their whole approach is going to be blame Bush. Well, we've seen how that has worked over the last four years."

First of all, why isn't the Raw Story's scoop about DeLay's continuing ethical problems getting more play in the media? Well, in another interesting article in the Washington Post this morning, they at least mention the latest situation--in a summary of all of DeLay's woes. But why isn't he in jail yet? Why is he allowed to "lash out" at AARP, clearly the raw meat target du jour of the rabid right? And if a sound plan to help Social Security hasn't been written yet, why hasn't Congress done so?

Really, the only thing Social Security needs is to raise the income cap so that richer people pay a little bit more. People can augment it with all the IRAs and personal retirement accounts they want to. Bush's plan does nothing, as has been well documented, to "save" Social Security, because that's precisely not his goal. It's all smoke and mirrors, and you can be sure his business pals will profit.

But perhaps Bush's plan will ultimately become the spear he will fall on.


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