Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Third Rail

The Moose suggests that the donkey have a better plan on social security reform than the word, "no".

Democrats have long relied on the notion that social security is the "third rail" of American politics. Here's the breaking news for the donkey - the rail has been de-electrified. In fact, in this past election, the majority of seniors voted for Bush despite the dire Democratic warnings about privatization. That dog no longer hunts for the donkey. And younger voters are even more immune to the Democratic pleadings about personal accounts.

The Bushies are dead serious about advancing social security reform. The primary obstacle to reform is that they cannot pay for the transition costs for private accounts. Of course, spending the country into debt hasn't stopped the Bushies before. What's a few trillion dollars among friends, anyway! With a growing debt and a falling dollar, maybe the administration would pause in their press for privatization?

No way. Fiscal irresponsibility in pursuit of the Bushies' political ambitions is no obstacle.

E.J. Dionne, however, makes a salient point in today's Washington Post,

...if Social Security privatization is supposed to be about making "younger workers" better off, as Bush has said, will he please explain why piling yet more debt on their backs should make them grateful?

But, Democrats must prepare for a fight on this issue - and "no" is not enough. "Standpatism" will not suffice. The Moose has been puzzled by the donkey's adamant opposition to any personal accounts. After all, social democratic Sweden has embraced them. Why not come up with some novel alternatives to pay for personal accounts - like the one Will Marshall proposed a little while back - tax carbon emissions to finance reform.

...taxing waste rather than work (the payroll tax is a tax on labor) to fund personal accounts will pay national security dividends by reducing our reliance on Middle East oil. By making it more expensive to burn carbon-based fuels, we can speed America's transition to cleaner, renewable fuels -- as well as new technologies like hydrogen fuel cells -- for powering our cars, offices, and homes. It's time to show the world we're serious about kicking our oil habit.

This is beautiful - pay for personal accounts by making America less dependent on foreign oil and it's environmentally green to boot -

we need a carbon tax to protect the earth's climate. Even the environmental know-nothings who dominate the Bush administration are beginning to realize that, with or without the Kyoto treaty, America cannot simply abdicate its responsibility for cutting its enormous output of greenhouse gas emissions.

Clearly a proposal T.R. would love - promotes reform while protecting the environment and makes America more secure.

Maybe personal accounts are not the answer. But the Moose urges donkeys to think outside the box as they are confronted with the Bush challenge on social security. Merely relying on old-think will only result in another triumph for the elephant.
-- Posted at 8:36 AM | Link to this post | Email this post