Wednesday, February 08, 2006

As a Thief in the Night 

And no, we ain't talking about Jesus:
Last year, even though Bush talked endlessly about the supposed joys of private accounts, he never proposed a specific plan to Congress and never put privatization costs in the budget. But this year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday.

His plan would let people set up private accounts starting in 2010 and would divert more than $700 billion of Social Security tax revenues to pay for them over the first seven years.

If this comes as a surprise to you, have no fear. You're not alone. Bush didn't pitch private Social Security accounts in his State of the Union Message last week.

First, he drew a mocking standing ovation from Democrats by saying that "Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security," even though, as I said, he'd never submitted specific legislation.

Then he seemed to be kicking the Social Security problem a few years down the road in typical Washington fashion when he asked Congress "to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby-boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," adding that the commission would be bipartisan "and offer bipartisan solutions."

But anyone who thought that Bush would wait for bipartisanship to deal with Social Security was wrong. Instead, he stuck his own privatization proposals into his proposed budget.
A year ago the American people, with the grudging assistance of the Democratic party, drove a stake in this dreadful Norquistian plan to redirect even more wealth into Republican pockets. But they did not, alas, remember to cut off its head and fill its mouth with garlic.

(Thanks to Zemblan patriot J.D. for the link.)

UPDATE: We have belatedly discovered that our eminent colleague Josh Marshall has been all over the Social Security end run, and then some. One charming bit unrelated to the privatization plan:
This year [Bush is] asking Congress to eliminate the already-measly lump-sum death benefit that Social Security has paid for half a century. He also wants Congress to cut off survivor benefits for 16 and 17 year olds who are not currently enrolled in school.

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