Congressional Democrats have attempted more head-fakes in recent weeks than Michael Jordan ever did in an entire season. Their Republican counterparts would be wise not to fall for these calculated issue deceptions.
The head-fakes began with Democratic Party Committee Chairman Howard Dean calling Republicans the ?white Christian Party? and stating that they have ?never made an honest living in their lives.? He is now making the nonsensical argument that unless Republicans vow their support for reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act ? which doesn?t expire until 2007 ? they have no business courting African-American voters.
Other head-fakes include Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) stating, ?There has never been an administration more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda.? Mrs. Clinton apparently suffers from short-term memory loss. And besides, President Bush?s agenda has produced a strong economy with consistent GDP growth. That?s not memory loss by the Democrats. That?s denial.
Senate Democrats such as Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Biden (D-DE) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have attempted to shift the focus away from restructuring the failing Social Security program to the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility. With no evidence to support their near treasonous claims, they have compared Guantanamo to Hitler?s concentration camps, Stalin?s gulags, and Pol Pot?s killing fields. Durbin even compared American soldiers? interrogation techniques of known terrorists to the Nazi?s treatment of concentration camp prisoners.
Most recently, House Democrats ventured into what the Washington Post called ?the land of make-believe.? Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and a contingent of his Democratic colleagues took over a Capitol conference room and pretended to lead a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee. This is consistent with the Democrats pretending to care more about the public, when in fact they only care about their political party.
Bush?s primary goal this year has been to educate the public and Congress about the Social Security crisis. The president has shown tireless leadership traveling the country and explaining to members of Congress that progressively indexing benefits and enacting optional personal accounts for younger workers will solve the crisis. Accurate polls show that over 60 percent of the public favors giving younger workers the option of placing their payroll taxes in a personal investment account.
Until recently, Congressional Democrats have played a unified defense against nearly every major Republican legislative proposal. Almost every Democrat has publicly opposed optional personal accounts, and most opposed the president?s judicial nominees. Polls conducted by even the most liberal media outlets show, however, that the public is tiring of the Democrats? obstructionist strategy. The public wants solutions, but the Democrats won?t even acknowledge we have problems.
The Democratic Party leadership knows that it would be political suicide to offer any solution this late in the debate to fixing the Social Security solvency crisis. Any suggestion of a solution ? even raising tax rates, their standard solution to every problem ? would amount to acknowledging they were wrong that even the slightest crisis exists. Democrats framed their position from the beginning around denying the presence of a crisis, not around a solution.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, they did not count on the president?s dogged determination to change the Social Security structure. The president?s relentlessness on Social Security is a problem for Democrats, for it forces them to either continue to deny a crisis exists, or to change the national political debate and focus on other issues. They have chosen the latter option ? the head-fake.
The Democrats also did not count on an ever increasing percentage of the public waking up to the fact that there is a crisis. Voters are not as dumb as Democrats think.
The Democrats may have thought they had a sure-fire winning strategy in opposing any changes to the dysfunctional Social Security structure. They will soon find, though, that their obstructionist, head-fake tactics will backfire. The American public overwhelmingly supports aggressive solutions to fixing Social Security, and does not take kindly to members of Congress comparing their fighting boys and girls to murdering Nazis and communists.
The Democrats, as the president might say, ?misunderestimated? their opponents. As usual, they also insulted the public?s intelligence and underestimated the demand to fix Social Security and overhaul the tax code ? the crumbling pillars of our nation?s economic infrastructure.
Congressional Democrats will no doubt continue the head-fake strategy right up to Election Day 2006. It is the only move they have.