Militantly In Favor Of Reform..........

John blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Tue Feb 15 19:33:16 MST 2005


Free Congress Foundation's

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February 7, 2005

The Free Congress Commentary

Full Steam Ahead On Social Security Reform!

By Paul M. Weyrich

The President has been around the country selling his proposal for
Social Security.  He plans more travel.  He will need it.  Let me
say at the outset that I am militantly in favor of his Social
Security program.  I am too old to benefit from it but my children
and grandchildren should get a better deal than their Mother and I
look forward to.

The Democrats are picturing this as some sort of roulette.  Yes,
it is true the market has ups and downs.  If you need the money in
the near term it is not a sure bet.  But taken on average over a
decade, even during the Great Depression, the stock market
produces a greater rate of return than virtually any other
vehicle.  For the program to work workers would need to be able to
choose between several competing plans, which would contain a
package of several relatively safe investments.  Even I would not
advocate workers being able to “invest” in get-rich quick

Getting back to the President’s efforts to pass measures, in his
State of the Union address, George Bush indicated he is open to
any good ideas from Democrats.  He is not likely to get many.  The
Democrats, at least those in the Senate, have concluded that their
best chance to return to controlling that body is to lay across
the Social Security tracks.  They want to stop any private account

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said there is no crisis in
Social Security.  The President says there is a crisis.  Guess who
else believed there was a crisis in Social Security?  A Democrat
named Bill Clinton.  And guess who said, at the time, he was open
to considering private accounts?  A Democrat named Bill Clinton.
And guess who was not able to solve the Social Security crisis
while he was President?  Bingo!  A Democrat named Bill Clinton.

The problem with Washington is that it is next to impossible to
legislate any good idea.  It is very easy to stop any good idea.
That is because good ideas, by their nature, end up transferring
power from those who have it to those who do not.  Those who have
it, of course, want to keep it.  So they have learned every trick
of delay and destruction there is.  Republicans, beginning a
quarter of a century ago with Ronald Reagan, became the Party of
new ideas.  This was a decade and a half after the Great Society,
which was the last period in which the Democrats seemed to be the
innovators.  The problem for them was their ideas didn’t work.  So
by the time Reagan was running for the Presidency in 1980 he was
able to say:  “Government is not the solution.  Government is the
problem.”  From Reagan’s tax cuts in 1981, to his marginal rate
reduction of 1986, to various forms of deregulation, to the
advocacy of abstinence, Republicans became the Party of
innovation.  While we remember Reagan for his bigger
accomplishments, the fact is a great deal of what that President
proposed in his eight years in office never saw the light of day.
That is because the President had only a slim margin of Republican
control of the U.S. Senate during his first six years in office,
while the Democrats controlled the House the entire time Reagan
was President and controlled the Senate as well during Reagan’s
last two years in office.

The Democrats figured out it was in their best interest to kill
most of the President’s initiatives, lest they be permanently out
of power.  The deregulation of the broadcast industry alone
brought us talk radio as we know it.  Think of where we would be
without talk radio.

That is precisely what the fight concerning Social Security is all
about.  The President has proposed a reform of the system which
will absolutely shift the political dynamic away from government
and toward the individual.  The Democrats see this as
life-threatening.  So what are they up to?  First, they are
denying that there is a Social Security crisis.  Harry Reid says
we don’t have to lift a finger and Social Security will still pay
out full benefits 50 years from now.  The President points out
that in just a very few years the Social Security surplus will end
and thereafter there will be less inflow of dollars than outflow.
There will be just two workers contributing for every one worker
receiving benefits.

Whether the President will be able to get this key component of
his second term program passed will depend on two things.  First,
the President and not Harry Reid has to be successful on the
question of whether or not there is a crisis in Social Security.
If the President prevails on that question and the public buys the
idea that there is a crisis the public will be open to solutions.
Second, younger people, who are already convinced, by and large,
that private accounts would benefit them, must get politically
active on the subject.

Younger voters tend not to be activist because a) they often don’t
know how to be an activist; b) if they are single they are usually
too busy having a good time to bother; c) if they are married but
going to school they are too tied up with college and perhaps
part-time work to take the time to do something on an issue like
this; d) if they are married with children they are struggling
financially to make ends meet and they don’t have time for
politics; and e) they just don’t take an interest in the issues of
our day.  That must change.

The Republican Party, over and above the President, is going to
have to run the equivalent of a political campaign to recruit and
train younger voters to demand that Congress pass the President’s

The Democrats and some older voters (such as the AARP) are going
to be flooding Congressional offices to tell them to vote “no” on
private accounts for Social Security.  They will have the easier
time of it because when a politician votes “no” he usually is not
held accountable for what happens to the program.  If he votes
“yes” he is often held accountable.  So when there is doubt, it is
easier to say no.

This is so important for the future of the nation that all of us
who believe as we do must help the President to educate Americans
that the crisis is real.  Then we must activate all the young
people we know.  My own five children are going to hear about
this, I assure you.  We owe it to them and they owe it to
themselves and THEIR children to be sure they take the time out of
their incredibly busy schedules to participate in the political
process to make this happen.  It is a tall order.  It will take
every part of the President’s Coalition working together to give
it a chance.  What are we waiting for?

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress

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