Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Losing the Social Security battle, but winning the war

Stephen Moore admits that Bush’s scheme to save Social Security is "now officially floundering." But,

even though personal accounts may go nowhere this year, reformers can still take heart. Here’s why. First, the policy debate is completely commanded by conservatives’ ideas, not the left’s. That’s a political victory in itself. Second, if Republicans lose the fight this year, they have in many ways further imprinted in voters’ minds the message that the Democratic party is reactionary and devoid of ideas. Republicans, by pressing boldly for personal accounts, have succeeded in demonstrating again that they are the party of reform. To most Americans, the main DNC/Brookings Institution/AARP talking point on personal accounts--that the program doesn’t need fixing--is almost laughable.

Finally, and most important, losing the first round of the battle, if it comes to that, doesn’t automatically discredit the idea. Consider the transformational policy milestones of recent decades. It has taken more than 20 years from the time President Reagan announced SDI, to almost universal skepticism from the intellectual class, for the missile shield program to become a (mostly) accepted component of our defense strategy.


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No serious person I know believes that adjustments in funding of Social Security aren’t necessary. The question is one of means, and using a means (private accounts) that makes the problem worse doesn’t make any sense. And the more talk we get from folks like Michael Ferris, the more it’s clear that the Republican agenda is to destroy Social Security. Perhaps if the intellectual assault is continued for the next few decades, that plan might be put into action.

For the source for the Ferris quote, below, see Dana Milbanks’s article on the Judeo-Christian constitutional restoration conference in DC this week.

Farris then told the crowd he is "sick and tired of having to lobby people I helped get elected." A better-educated citizenry, he said, would know that "Medicare is a bad idea" and that "Social Security is a horrible idea when run by the government."

Milbanks article here.

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