Friday, December 17, 2004

Social Security privatization (elimination) has become a big fixture for me lately. It has already been the subject of countless speeches loaded with questionable statements and part of an economic conference which, if one reads the more objective (i.e. non-administration sources) reports of the conference, had so little basis in actual economic theory that Roosevelt High's math club could have torn through their estimates.

Paul Krugman weighs in on the subject by pointing out the results of some other privatization attempts that have been made in other countries:
Privatization dissipates a large fraction of workers' contributions on fees to investment companies…

…Decades of conservative marketing have convinced Americans that government programs always create bloated bureaucracies, while the private sector is always lean and efficient. But when it comes to retirement security, the opposite is true. More than 99 percent of Social Security's revenues go toward benefits, and less than 1 percent for overhead. In Chile's system, management fees are around 20 times as high. And that's a typical number for privatized systems.
The most consistently ire-provoking aspect of this whole fiasco is the lack of critical coverage from most of the mainstream press. The Bush plan, flawed though it is, has a chance of going through mostly due to a lack of accurate information given to the public. The Republicans so far control the ground this debate is standing on.

Unless the Democrats can understand that and work to change the playing field, Bush will, over the objections of every economist and policy expert not on the GOP payroll, destroy one of the few government plans that _actually_ works the way it is supposed to.

Update: From Josh at Talking Points Memo
It turns out that there is at least one House Democrat who's coming out for ending the Social Security program. That would be Rep. Allen Boyd of Florida. He recently signed on as the cosponsor of Jim Kolbe's phase-out bill.

So, as long as we know where Boyd stands, let's find out where everyone else stands on the issue too.

The only way the Democrats are going to survive this is through complete and total party discipline. All it takes is a few Democrats crossing the isle and the Republicans will have all the PR they need. As someone else said (I can't remember at the moment, but I can't take credit for this idea), this needs to be completely on the Republicans, win or lose (and it will be lose). Any shadow of bipartisanship will simply give the Republicans political coverage in the long run.

Killing Social Security is the Republican's baby, let them take all the credit.

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