Friday, April 29, 2005

Rich Lowry back in March: The Progressive GOP

A correct early call this March from Rich Lowry on Social Security on National Review Online:
"The Social Security debate is headed toward a monumental political irony: It might well be that Republicans offer creative ideas to make the system more 'progressive' - i.e., more favorable to people lower down on the income scale - and Democrats resolutely refuse to adopt them. What happened to the Democrats we used to know, who made progressivity the highest test of any public policy and leapt at any opportunity to 'soak the rich'?

Of course, this trend is partly the result of political desperation, as the GOP seeks ideas to make reform that includes personal accounts more appealing to Democrats. But that doesn't detract from the merit of the proposals. Some Republicans are now suggesting not just modernizing and putting what Democrats like to call the world's most effective government program on a sounder financial footing, but doing it in ways that are in keeping with that old Democratic value: fairness.

Democratic opposition to personal accounts could prevent it, as well as the parties' contrasting theories of the welfare state. Liberals generally want it to cover as many non-poor people as possible, so that there is a big, powerful political constituency for government. Republicans should want to limit governmental dependence to those who can't fend for themselves. GOP proposals on Social Security are drifting in the right direction — toward maintaining the program as social insurance for the poor, offering uplift in the form of personal accounts and squeezing the governmental dependence of the fat and happy.

So, stick it to Ken Lay. Pursue economic justice. Level the playing field. Stiff George W. Bush's rich friends. Apply any demagogic slogan you like. And do it all while making Social Security better and stronger."

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