Sunday, May 01, 2005

Michael Kinsley: In Praise of Bush

In Praise of Bush's Honesty (Honest): "Bush was honest and even courageous about Social Security. Social Security is entirely about writing checks: Money goes in, money goes out. As Bush has discovered in the past few months, there are no shadows to hide in while you fiddle with it. The problem is fewer and fewer workers supporting more and more retirees, and there are only two possible solutions: Someone has to pay more in, and/or someone has to take less out...

Even more to Bush's credit, the plan he's backing is highly progressive. Benefits for low-income workers would keep rising with average wages, as now, but benefits for middle- and high-income people would be geared more toward merely keeping up with inflation...

So Democrats now face a choice: Are they going to be alligators on this one? Why Bush has taken this on remains a mystery. There is no short-term political advantage, and there are other real long-term problems that are more pressing. But he has done it, to his credit...

...if privatization is truly voluntary, it can't do much harm. And if that is Bush's price for being out front on a real solution to the real problem, the Democrats should let him have it.

Unless they are complete morons -- always a possibility -- the Democrats could end up in the best of all worlds. They know in their hearts that Social Security has got to change in some unpleasant way. Bush, for whatever reason, is willing to take this on and to take most of the heat. And all he wants in return is the opportunity to try something that will alienate people from the Republican Party for generations to come."

Kinsley is editor of the LA Times and does a Sunday rant in the Washington Post. Remember that in general terms Kinsley hates Bush and everything Republicans (he thinks) stand for - so this is a remarkable column. Kinsley is uncharacteristically right until the last sentence I excerpted above. If Bush gets a toehold on PRAs as part of Social Security reform, Bush will continue to be and will grow as a Republican favorite son.

No comments: