Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The politics of Social Security at present

Richard W. Stevenson of the New York Times wrote May 9th that since Bush made his big Press Conference the Republicans are looking for Democrats to throw out proposals and deal with them. The political risk the Republicans would have to take to pass an all Republican Social Security reform bill has them seriously looking at whether they can survive the next election after they do that.

The Democrats refuse to deal until Bush's private accounts are taken off the table. Bush will not do that, so they face an impasse.

This explains the tone of David Brooks' Sunday editorial. The Republicans have been unable to find any cross-over Democrats to give them cover as they destroy Social Security, so the Republican mouthpieces like David Brooks are now in full cry with their childish taunts that are slightly more grown up versions of "Nyah Nyah Nyah. Cowardly little Democrats won't come out to play."

So that's pretty much where the Social Security issue stands now.

In my opinion, the Democrats are doing this properly because the Republicans cannot be trusted to live up to any deal they compromise with the Democrats to get their cooperation.

Any compromise clearly has to be in the Senate. The Republicans have the House locked up and they know it. The House is going to pass as bad a bill as they want, and not be too concerned about it. So the Senate - if they can get Democratic Senators as political cover - will pass a different bill representing the compromises the Democrats forced the Republicans in the Senate to accept.

Then the two bills go to a joint House - Senate committee to be put together. What the Republican leadership in both houses has been doing is choosing only the most pliable Democrats, then deciding among the Republicans how to craft the joint bill. That bill comes out and each house must vote it up or down without amendment.

What the Republicans will do is strip out the compromise portions from the Senate and beef up the privatization aspects. When the Democrats complain, they will be told "You were part of the process." and the Republicans will tout the final product as a joint Democratic - Republican bill. But it won't be any such thing.

So am I saying that I don't trust the Republicans to deal honestly with the Democrats?

Of course I am. The Republican Senators and Congressmen right now are about as trustworthy as rabid river rats. They have the leadership of both Houses, the Presidency and the Supreme Court behind them. They don't HAVE to be trustworthy. They are in POWER.


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