Stephen Moore, writing for the WSJ Political Diary email, reports on a renewed round of scare mongering being used by Democrats for political advantage this fall:
The mid-term elections are three months away but Democratic attack dogs are already pounding Republican incumbents for harboring secret plans to destroy Social Security. “We’re getting hit hard and early on Social Security,” says a Senate leadership aide. “I’m worried this could lead to moderate Republicans renouncing their support for personal investment accounts.”
The issue has become a livewire in the key Senate battleground states of New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington. Bob Casey, the Democratic challenger in Pennsylvania, is lambasting incumbent Rick Santorum on the issue of Social Security cutbacks.
We’ve heard this record before from Democrats — a ploy that began in earnest back in 1982 when the Tip O’Neill Democrats tarred and feathered Reagan Republicans for trying to cut the cost-of-living increase in Grandma’s Social Security check. In every election since 1996, Democratic challengers have lobbed these political grenades at Republicans — but with not many casualties inflicted.
Moore suggests a counterpunch:
Republicans could flip the table on the Democrats on this politically sensitive issue by rallying behind a bill drafted by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Mr. DeMint would take the annual Social Security surpluses (i.e. payroll taxes collected each year in excess of benefit payouts) and invest those dollars in young workers’ private accounts. Mr. DeMint calls this plan “Stop the Raid, Start the Accounts.” Polling indicates that what makes seniors and young workers angriest about Social Security is that $100 billion a year is stolen from the trust fund and spent on other programs. More than two-thirds of voters say they favor something like the DeMint plan to stop their payroll taxes from being diverted to unrelated federal pork. By squirreling these dollars into private accounts, the raid would immediately end.
Rather than running away from Social Security, Republicans could take the offensive on the issue and force Congress to cease and desist from one of the greatest raids on taxpayer funds in history. “We’ve got to be smart about this,” says Mr. DeMint. “Let Democrats explain why they want Social Security dollars spent on other government programs rather than retirement. This will let clarify for voters which party favors destroying the program.”