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The Necessity of Bowing to Political Realities, When They're the Right Kind of Realities

One of Megan McArdle's readers unearthed a 2005 New York Times editorial, "Social Security Follies."  It derides Pres. Bush for continuing his fight to make private savings accounts available within Social Security, rather than conceding that not even Republican congressional majorities could avert that plan's political defeat:

Congressional Republicans have begun talking with top White House aides about an exit strategy -- not from Iraq, but from the winless quagmire of President Bush's campaign to privatize Social Security. Mr. Bush has responded to this new political reality by, first, insisting that the American people do not yet understand the virtues of privatization, and second, blaming the failure of his deservedly unpopular plan on Congressional Democrats.

That's absurd.

After listening to Mr. Bush talk of little else during his second term, the American people understand quite well what he is proposing for Social Security, and by wide margins reject it. In fact, the polls show that the more they learn about privatization, the less they like it. And with good reason. The very real risks of privatization -- in terms of retirement security and the enormous budgetary cost to the country -- far outweigh the potential rewards.

So when Congressional Republican leaders tell the president that Social Security private accounts are a nonstarter, they are conveying the informed views of their constituents.

Mr. Bush has reacted by railing against Democrats for obstruction -- as if Democrats are duty-bound to breathe life into his agenda and, even sillier, as if opposing a plan that the people do not want is an illegitimate tactic for an opposition party. 

Here is the corresponding 2010 New York Times editorial, which you need not rush to your computer to read:

Congressional "Blue Dog" Democrats have begun talking with top White House aides about an exit strategy -- not from Afghanistan, but from the winless quagmire of President Obama's campaign for sweeping health care reform. Mr. Obama has responded to this new political reality by, first, insisting that the American people do not yet understand the virtues of health reform, and second, blaming the failure of his deservedly unpopular plan on Congressional Republicans.

That's absurd.

After listening to Mr. Obama talk of little else during his first year in office, the American people understand quite well what he is proposing for health care, and by wide margins reject it. In fact, the polls show that the more they learn about Obama's plan, the less they like it. And with good reason. The very real risks of the proposed comprehensive reforms -- in terms of the quality and availability of medical care, and the enormous budgetary cost to the country -- far outweigh the potential rewards.

So when Congressional Democrats tell the president that key elements of his plan are nonstarters, they are conveying the informed views of their constituents.

Mr. Obama has reacted by railing against Republicans for obstruction -- as if Republicans are duty-bound to breathe life into his agenda and, even sillier, as if opposing a plan that the people do not want is an illegitimate tactic for an opposition party.


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Discussions - 1 Comment

Bill, don't you understand that the only "informed constituents" are the constituents of liberal Democrats? Geesh!

Good find!

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