Signs of the Times
Mark Thoma Is on Intellectual Garbage Pickup (Another Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Edition)

The Bush Social Security Clown Show Continues

Bush gives a press conference...

You will recall that there are four potential dealbreakers--four hurdles a Bush plan must surmount before it is worth supporting:

  1. Its private accounts must be a good deal for beneficiaries.
  2. The plan must increas national savings (which means not carve-out but add-on).
  3. The plan that preserves the defined-benefit component of Social Security in the long run.
  4. The plan must implemented by competent technocrats, not the deranged monkeys who have brought us such wonders as the current deficit, the steel tariff and the Iraqi nuclear program.

Bush may have made progress on (3)--or may not. I cannot tell. He certainly did not make progress on (1), (2), or (4). / US - Bush shifts approach on Social Security reform: Edward Alden and Holly Yeager in Washington: President George W. Bush on Thursday night endorsed a controversial plan to ensure the scheme's solvency by cutting benefits sharply for better-off workers. In a rare prime-time news conference that also focused on rising petrol prices, Mr Bush said he wanted to reform the national pension scheme so that future benefits for low-wage workers would be preserved, while middle and upper-income workers would receive less than currently promised.... An ABC News-Washington Post poll this week found 64 per cent of Americans did not approve of the way Mr Bush was handling Social Security and 51 per cent did notsupport his plan for private accounts, down from 41 per cent in mid-March. While he reiterated his support for allowing younger workers to shift into private accounts some of the money they pay into Social Security.... Private accounts that divert funds from Social Security have faced united Democratic opposition, as well as criticism from some Republicans....

You know, when I look at my four requirements, it strikes me that three of them--(1), (2), and (4)--are primarily Republican issues, or issues that are of especial concern to those whom I once thought Republicans to be. They are supposed to worry about whether Bush's private accounts are structured to be a good deal for beneficiaries (they are not). They are supposed to be worried about raising national savings (the Bush plan doesn't, except through very indirect and improbable channels). They are supposed to be worried about competence in government.

So where are the grownup Republicans on this? I don't hear a peep.