Two major changes have occurred since those long-forgotten days when Democrats were identifying Social Security as a crisis that had to be fixed immediately: The problem has gotten worse, and Democrats have proven they weren't sincere in the first place.
Bill Clinton pretended to be adamant about fixing the problem. Al Gore lectured his presidential opponent George W. Bush for not approaching the problem with sufficient urgency. Allusions to the ephemeral "lock box" were Algore's favorite sound bites.
One would think, then, that President Bush would be entitled to some credit for his willingness to tackle the notorious third rail of politics. He has little to gain politically from pursuing a solution.
Think again. In response to President Bush's plan to add a private accounts option, Democrats insist that two rights make a wrong. That is, even if the president's reform would enhance the average American's retirement security, it must not be permitted if it would also help big business, which Democrats openly despise. You see, it's not just the whack jobs on the Left, but the entire Democratic leadership apparatus that is saying the president is doing this as a sop to Wall Street.
But, alas, Democrats are not limiting their objections to their familiar class warfare tactics. Just like their about-face on assessing Saddam Hussein as a threat that had to be removed, they are now shamelessly, brazenly denying there is a serious problem with Social Security that needs serious attention.
Like little kids they are arguing over the semantics of whether we are currently facing a "crisis" in Social Security or just a major "problem."
Who cares what you call it? This system is guaranteed to be deep in the red in less than 15 years mostly because of demographic shifts that will result in insufficient numbers of workers to support increasing numbers of retirees. In addition, because of a "well-meaning" adjustment introduced by the Carter Administration in 1977, initial benefits are indexed to wages so that each generation of retirees receives higher real benefits -- more than the cost of living -- than the previous generation.
Beginning in 2018, absent major reform, the federal government will have to tap general revenues to subsidize its Social Security benefit payments, eventually in staggering amounts approaching $10 trillion. A compounding factor is that the Social Trustees report estimates that we will lose $600 billion for every year we ignore the problem. Yet this isn't a serious enough issue to demand our immediate attention?
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