There was little new information on Social Security in President Bush’s hastily-called press conference Thursday evening. He repeated his two favorite Social Security mantras:
- the system is headed toward “bankruptcy” (which Crabby Old Lady and you know by now is a lie) and
- private accounts must be part of any new legislation because they are key to his vision of an “ownership society.”
Clearly, Crabby hasn’t been keeping up. Until last night, she thought that meaningless phrase had been put to bed.
Again, the president repeated his refusal to accept the idea of raising the salary cap, currently at $90,000, on which Social Security payroll taxes are collected.
Recently, chief Social Security actuary, Steve Goss, calculated that removing the salary cap
“...would eliminate the [Social Security] deficit entirely.”
- - SF Gate, 25 March 2005
The only new item Mr. Bush threw into the ring last night is a means test for future benefits that, according to Goss, would slightly increase benefits for low-wage earners while decreasing benefits for middle-class wage earners by 30 percent. Democratic leaders were quick to put this scheme into perspective:
“[It would] gut benefits for middle-class families,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid in a joint statement.
“…All the president did was confirm that he will pay for his risky privatization scheme by cutting benefits of middle-class seniors.”
- - ABC News, 29 April 2005
If you missed the press conference, the above is all you really need to know about what was said in regard to Social Security. Nothing of substance has changed in the president’s point of view.
In fact, Mr. Bush expressed far more clearly how adamant he is on the subject of privatization in a conversation at the White House last week with Rep. Charles E. Rangel (D-NY):
“Congressman, I am the president. And private accounts are not coming off the table even if it’s the last day I spend in the presidency.”
- - The New York Times, 27 April 2005
That's just presidential pig-headedness, according to Crabby, and worse, a danger to the retirement of future generations – your children and grandchildren.
A number of Republican legislators are wobbling in their support of the president’s Social Security privatization proposal, and in just one month, public support for the plan has dropped 11 points, from 56 to 45 percent, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Tuesday.
Social Security needs some tweaking, but with opposition to private accounts hardened and growing, this window of opportunity may close altogether due to Mr. Bush’s petulant stubbornness.
Crabby Old Lady urges you to make your opinion clear to your senators and congress person. You can do that here.
...to be continued...