Settling Social Security’s solvency

Democrats want to be bipartisan on Social Security – if conservatives don’t have an opinion.

AARP needs to find the brakes on its wheelchair. President George W. Bush intends to “dismantle Social Security,” the AARP lies in its newest piece of televised propaganda. “If you had a problem with the sink, you wouldn’t tear down the entire house,” the ad states as bulldozers and wrecking balls tear through a kind lady’s suburban ranch.

Strange – maybe I got a deal on my plumber, but I’ve never heard of a faucet drip adding up to a several trillion dollar shortfall.

Bush’s tentative proposal, among other ideas, includes adding personal accounts to the Social Security system. The plan should give youngsters a higher return on the money they put away for their retirement, reduce the costs of fixing Social Security in the long run and put every true-to-life Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean fan into a fire-breathing dundgeon.

As it is with personal responsibility and national defense, the newest campaign against the left is against an idea 90 percent of liberals know nothing about. Even economically literate liberals such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman are brandishing their infinite ignorance in this one. After all, financial analysis is tricky business for people who have spent the last five years denouncing “big business” and Halliburton.

Adding private accounts “would mean the dismantling of Social Security as we know it,” said Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., during last week’s Democratic Party radio address. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, “President Bush should forget about privatizing Social Security.” Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., claimed privatizing a small portion of Social Security is an “expensive and risky gamble that jeopardizes the livelihood of millions of Americans.” Hold on a second. Did Bush club an old person last week or something? Are we at war with the Social Security Administration? Don’t we need a U.N. Security Council resolution for that?

Democrats say they are “ready and willing” to be bipartisan on Social Security but only so long as conservatives don’t have an opinion on the matter. Republicans took years working to regain control of the House and Senate, and now, liberals expect us to roll over as if we’re debating favorite pen colors.

Liberals are saying the long-term solvency of Social Security requires only “small” changes (a lie). Liberals argue Bush’s proposal would seriously jeopardize upcoming generations’ financial security (another lie). Liberals claim a deteriorating social program about to go bankrupt is in no need of change (a third lie).

Consistent with their disgust for corporate America, the far-left’s favorite assertion is that private accounts amount to another Bush administration “sell-out” to Wall Street. Bill Patterson, AFL-CIO office of investment director, said, “There is a dangerous confluence between the industry and the ideologues of the right.” With the same utter lack of evidence, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney claims, “Social Security privatization is a risky scheme for America but a sure bet for the financial-services industry.”

Apparently, USA Today is noticing in its headlines, “Street unenthused about private accounts.” This also must be why MSNBC is telling its online readers, “The proposal to allow individual accounts is getting a surprisingly tepid response so far from Wall Street.”

Investment firms’ lukewarm response to Bush’s proposals is a “surprise” only until you do half a minute of research. The model cited for Social Security reform is the Thrift Savings Plan, which is currently used for federal workers. The plan charges its participants only a fraction of what most funds charge for administrative expenses. The average stock and bond mutual fund holder could expect to pay 1.1 percent annually in administrative fees; Thrift Savings Plan holders pay a miniscule .06 percent.

“In other words, it is hardly likely to be a bonanza for Wall Street,” said Rob Mills, vice president of the industry trade group Securities Industry Association. If investment companies aren’t looking at a solid return on personal accounts, why should they be excited about the idea? And, more importantly, why do liberals pretend this is something we still need to talk about?

I imagine this debate will be long over by the time today’s left-leaning students make the realization that Social Security isn’t an inexhaustible cash machine for old people. Of course, as my dear University friends strike this epiphany, I will be expecting “Thank you” cards.

Darren Bernard welcomes comments at [email protected]