Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Social Security Enemy: Republicans

Republicans in Congress and a few conservative pundits (William Kristol and Newt Gingrich) try to start a stampede away from Social Security privatization—openly declaring, as their justification, political cowardice. Gingrich offers this bold lesson in far-sighted leadership: "Why would you go home tomorrow having cut benefits in Social Security for a problem that might happen in 25 years?"

The real problem, however, is moral cowardice. Both Kristol and Gingrich have long counseled abandoning the fight against the altruist welfare state, seeking only to reform its details to make it more friendly to conservative "family values." Now, they seem almost panicked that someone might prove that this decades-long moral cave-in was unnecessary.

"In GOP, Resistance on Social Security," Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, Washington Post, 1/11/05

" 'Why stir up a political hornet's nest...when there is no urgency?' said Rep. Rob Simmons (Conn.), who represents a competitive district. 'When does the program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then.'

"Simmons said there is no way he will support Bush's idea of allowing younger Americans to divert some of their payroll taxes into private accounts, especially when there are more pressing needs, such as shoring up Medicare and providing armor to US troops in Iraq. Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.), a member of the GOP leadership, said 15 to 20 House Republicans agree with Simmons, although others say the number is closer to 40. 'Just convincing our guys not to be timid is going to be a big struggle,' he said. 'It's going to take a lot of convincing,' which he said can be done."