There is increasing chatter in Washington about Social Security reform again becoming an issue in 2007. With a new Democratic Congress in charge, previous proposals from conservatives to permanently fix the ailing entitlement program look to be dead. But now, there is talk of shorter term fixes:
In recent days, Bush and senior administration officials have revived talk of reaching an accord on an overhaul of Social Security that would maintain the program’s solvency beyond the baby boom generation’s retirement. In an interview with The Washington Post last week, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., the president’s point man on Social Security, promised that the White House will enter talks with Democrats with “no preconditions.” That is a significant shift for Bush, who had previously said that any Social Security legislation would have to include private accounts that would allow workers to divert some of their payroll taxes to investments in stocks or bonds.
McConnell added another concession yesterday, saying that Social Security legislation should “solve the problem as far into the future as possible” — a standard that is far more flexible than Bush’s insistence on nothing short of a “permanent” fix.
By taking personal accounts off the table Republicans would be playing right into the Democrats’ hands. Liberals have always seen only one solution to the Social Security solvency problem: raise taxes. Now, by not offering a viable alternative to fix the program, a tax hike could be the only solution left standing.
Andy Roth over at the Club for Growth summed it up pretty well. “If President Bush takes personal accounts off the table, and relies on tax hikes to “fix” Social Security, then his legacy will be no better than his father’s,” said Roth. “While the current president didn’t say, “read my lips”, he did sign a pledge not to raise taxes. And that’s just as bad.”