Sunday, February 27, 2005

Phase-Out Plan Being Phased Out

The town meetings on phasing out Social Security don't seem to be going as well as Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) and others were planning. The NY Times reports:
The story was much the same throughout the country, as Republicans - some already skittish over Mr. Bush's plan - spent the week trying to assuage nervous constituents. Instead of building support for Mr. Bush's proposal to allow younger workers to divert payroll taxes into private retirement accounts, some of the events turned into fractious gripe sessions and others did not go nearly as well as their hosts had hoped.

..."We've yet to find one where there was an enthusiastic reception," said John Rother, the group's policy director. "The most positive reception people are getting is lots of questions, and there's significant skepticism. This is proving to be a tough sell, and our polling suggests that the more people know, the harder the sell."
In a Post article about a possible compromise position, David Gergen opines that such an outcome seems doubtful. I hope he's right.
"Why would they put their head in that noose?" he asked. As long as Republicans are opposed to any tax increases and Democrats are opposed to any benefit cuts, "I don't see a lot of wiggle room" for fashioning a bargain.

Given the poor prospects for victory, Gergen said, Bush's best option might be "a preemptive strategy that allows him to dump out of this and move toward a pathway to a new solution."


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