Friday, March 04, 2005

The Battle Is Joined

In the past couple weeks, there have been notable sighs of relief from Democrats about the Social Security debate. Frist said "maybe next year," polls showed Bush's support dropping, and the whole idea of private accounts seemed to be getting no traction.

But the past is prelude -- the battle is about to be joined. And there's no telling what verbal and mathematical trickery, fake "grassroots" (i.e. astroturf) organizations, more-or-less celebrity [cough] spokespeople, parliamentary maneuvering, kissing of Democrats while hiding the shiv, and hyping of unrelated events will be brought to bear to dessicate one of the most successful programs in the history of the United States.

Josh Marshall, who deserves a medal and an enormous cash prize for his dilligent work on Social Security for months now, realizes the stakes. I urge you to read Josh's post.

The ideological fixations of the Republican Party throughout the 20th Century are now focused on the retirement income of millions of Americans in the decades to come. They are using both the shaky claim that we can't afford to support the elderly as we've done in the past combined with a promise that their plan will do better, when they know they cannot ensure that promise can be supported by the market.

In short, they're making an unsupportable promise about the future and reneging on a long-standing promise made every decade since FDR.

And, of course, they're pushing risk onto middle- and lower-income individuals and increasing the benefits for the most wealthy in the nation.

This is going to be a long and tiring fight. But it's one we can and must win. While Democrats argue about many things, I can't think of a true Democrat who would want the repeal of the social contract developed in the New Deal.

So, in this instance if no other, let's all pull in the same direction. Social Security must stand basically as it is now.

Bush should fix the horrible problems he has caused himself (like the general fund crisis ) and not create new problems for individual Americans in the future, as he is attempting to do.

It's a vitally important fight, and it's just beginning.

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