Sunday, May 01, 2005

Washington Post Editorial: 'The Challenge to Democrats'

"For the past three months Democrats have declined to engage in a debate over Social Security. President Bush proposed a way of giving workers the option, but not the obligation, of saving some of their Social Security money in personal accounts. While he was crisscrossing the country in an attempt to prepare voters for unsettling change, Democrats offered no proposals of their own, saying that Mr. Bush should first come forward with a plan to plug Social Security's long-term deficit. In his news conference on Thursday, Mr. Bush took a first step toward offering such a plan. It is time for Democrats to reciprocate....

The[r]e are criticisms that Democrats should voice. But the president has presented ideas that are reasonable enough to serve as the starting point for action. Yes, personal accounts pose risks. But they are also likely, albeit not certain, to enrich the retirement of the majority of workers who opt for them; they should not be dismissed as heresy. Yes, cutting the value of future pensions relative to wages might force some middle-class Americans to save more privately or work a bit longer, but the pain is less than under many other proposals. The Social Security system does need fixing. And the longer Congress ducks it, the more the fix will hurt."

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