How many times have we heard Democrats -- latter-day deficit hawks that they are -- rail against President Bush's deficit spending? How many times have they feigned apoplexy over the spiraling national debt?
Well, folks, they must not mean what they say, because this looming Social Security problem is purely and simply about an inevitable explosion of the national debt. It's only avoidable if we reduce benefits, reduce other federal spending and/or raise taxes -- which at some point will be counterproductive on the revenue side.
Whether you call it a problem or a crisis, it is getting worse, and it's nothing short of immoral to put off working on solutions. The only conceivable reasons Democrats are in denial about it is that they either don't want to allow reform under a Republican president or don't want to fix it at all because they might lose one of the main weapons in their fear-mongering arsenal.
If they join Republicans in solving the problem, they won't be able to scare seniors away from the GOP with this issue any longer. It's no different from their approach to school choice. If they join Republican reformers in freeing inner-city children, largely minorities, from their failed public schools, they'll no longer be able to paint Republicans as ogres on education. And, they'll risk losing the indispensable political support of the education establishment.
The Social Security "crisis" was the subject of my first syndicated column six years ago. We've done nothing to fix it in the meantime, and it's getting worse.
President Bush is the first leader in a long time with the courage to do the right things even when they aren't popular and even when they lend themselves to the worst kind of vicious demagogic opposition. But he's also a guy who won't be intimidated by his opponents' tactics.
His opponents, including some on the Republican side, need to become part of the solution or get out of the way of those who are.