Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bush responds to failure of 60 day Social Security tour

Bush has almost reached the end of his 60-day and 60-stop tour to sell his Social Security ideas. No plan yet, just some ideas. The result so far is (from Bloomberg): "An ABC News-Washington Post poll released yesterday [April 25] showed that 64 percent of Americans now disapprove of his handling of Social Security, up from 56 percent in March."

So Bush is going to do what any CEO would do after spending massive amounts of time and money to get the result of declining sales of his product. He is going to extend the tour after May 1st.

More from Bloomberg: "``The president is going to continue to travel across the country,'' McClellan said April 18. Bush has declined to offer a detailed plan beyond the private accounts, saying it's up to Congress to offer proposals. Democrats are refusing to come to the table without specifics from the administration.

The decision to continue campaign-style trips underscores the dilemma Bush faces. It will be almost impossible to recruit congressional backing until the president wins more public support. As of now, leaders of both parties say there is little prospect for any bi-partisan accord, which is essential to enactment of any major Social Security legislation.

``Social Security reform is stuck in the mud on Capitol Hill,'' said Stu Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, a Washington-based newsletter reporting on electoral politics. ``The only way to move this issue forward is to create a groundswell at the grassroots.''

So far, the groundswell for Bush's plan has failed to materialize, judging by polls and comments from lawmakers.

``It doesn't look good,'' said Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a policy research organization in Washington. No recent poll shows Bush with an approval rating higher than 35 percent on Social Security, she said. ``The issue is fading,'' she said. Voters ``seem a little bored with it.'' [...]

Opponents say the president is being forced to prolong his bid for public approval because opposition to private accounts proved stronger than the president's advisers anticipated.

``The administration is still trying to sell the same old idea, just in different ways, and the public is still not buying,'' said David Certner, director of federal affairs for the AARP, the nation's biggest seniors group and an opponent of Bush's proposal. ``Unless the administration decides to go in a different direction, we're going to have a continued stalemate.''

Private accounts right now are a non-starter. A solution for the problem that may or may not occur in 2041, 2042 or 2052 (depending on which projection you read) is something that can be thought about, and probably should not be wrapped up in a program established by the very people (the Republican Party) who have wanted to destroy Social Security since it was first created.

Besides, Iraq, the federal deficit, the trade deficit, the falling dollar, lack of employment, healthcare (with the Medicare drug plan as more problem than solution), potential inflation and increasing interest rates are all problems that are a lot more immediate and need to be dealt with now.

So why is Bush futzing around with Social Security Reform when is clearly isn't going to fly anyway? Is he trying to hide from the real problems he doesn't want to deal with?


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