Friday, April 29, 2005

President Bush's Strategy on Social Security Reform

Kevin A. Hassett on Social Security Reform, the New England Patriots, the NFL Draft, and George W. Bush on NRO Financial:
[President Bush's] "...approach is tactically quite inspired. Since Social Security is in big trouble, it is not hard to convince folks that some kind of fix is in order. Once voters are convinced, then a politician has put a tremendous amount of pressure on his opponents. If the president is conciliatory and reasonable, then perhaps the policymakers in Washington are obstructionists if nothing happens. The president wants to work with Democrats and get something done. He has his principles, but he wants to hear theirs.

So the Democrats have two choices. They can oppose any compromise, in which case they may pay a politically price because they are the ones who are unwilling to be flexible. Or they can compromise and fix Social Security. If the president put forward a plan, the Democrats could claim that the fix did not occur because of the weakness of the plan. Without a plan, they see pressure to go to the table and work one out with their Republican colleagues. If they do not, perhaps there will be many more Tom Daschles in the next election, and then Social Security can be reformed.

By managing the politics in this way, President Bush has reduced the political risk associated with Social Security reform, and probably maximized the chance that something positive can happen."

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