Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday Morning Must-Read: Is There Still Life In Social Security Reform?

Bob Novak (hmmm...that name sounds familiar) says yes. Novak's piece is the first bit of good news I've seen on the Social Security reform front in quite some time. Novak frames the story in terms of standing on principle vs. compromise, and says principle won. Lindsey Graham and Robert Bennett attempted to win over Democrats by adding combinations of tax increases and benefit cuts...but instead alienated Republicans (that no Democrats took the bait says two things - one, party discipline is fairly good, and two, as usual, politicians will put partisan gain over the good of the nation). So out go the benefit cuts and tax increases, and in goes what is known as the Hunter plan, a reform package that would transfer the current surplus in the Social Security payroll tax funds into PSAs that are limited, at first, to Treasury bills, for those under 55 who don't opt out.

Still, it won't be smooth sailing getting such a package through both chambers, and Novak says a vote isn't imminent:
The momentum was slowed last week when House Speaker Dennis Hastert made clear he would not subject colleagues to two politically difficult votes before the August recess. CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) goes first, and that means Social Security probably will not come up until September at the earliest. Nevertheless, House Republicans follow the trail blazed long ago by Jack Kemp to provide leadership on Social Security that should have come from the White House.
And yet, the fact that this horse is still in the race gives me a glimmer of hope...

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