It’s been almost three weeks since Crabby Old Lady mentioned Social Security privatization and you’re probably not unhappy about that. Nevertheless, it’s time for an update.
President Bush has been making fewer speeches on Social Security to his hand-picked audiences. The most recent, on 2 June in rural Hopkinsville, Kentucky, didn’t vary from his usual pitch:
“Freedom is on the march...
“In 2027, the amount of money coming in [to Social Security] will be $200 billion less than the amount of money going out…
“I mean, it's conceivable if we don't do anything that the payroll tax will have to go to 18 percent in order to make - fulfill the promises for the baby boomers…”
“If you're a police officer and a nurse, who started working in 2011 and you work your entire careers, when you retire both of you will have a combined nest egg [from private accounts] of $669,000 as part of your retirement package. That's how money grows.
Where does this guy get his numbers, Crabby wants to know? Markets go up and down; nobody can predict their return over time. But the public seems to understand that.
The more Mr. Bush talks up Social Security privatization, the less people like it. In addition, they are nervous about the economy: Consumer confidence is down, the inflation rate was up to 3.5 percent in April and the Dow is down 300 points since the president first took office in 2001. Also, pension funds are crashing left and right.
“It just reinforces people’s agreement with the fundamental principle of Social Security,” said David Certner, director of federal affairs at Washington-based AARP. “There’s a lot of risk out there, and [Social Security] is not the system for risk.”
“We’ve become increasingly a risk society, where you’re transferring all the risk onto the individual,” says Karen Friedman, policy director at the Pension Rights Center in Washington.
- - bloomberg.com, 8 June 2005
Mr. Bush seems to be losing interest in Social Security. Congress is involved with judges and filibusters, and the news media is mostly ignoring the issue.
Crabby Old Lady is hoping the president will drop the phrase “personal accounts” into the same hole where he put “track down bin Laden dead or alive,” and then Congress can address the simple tweaks the system needs and get on with the really big problem – Medicare.
...to be continued...