Wednesday, November 28, 2007

more on social security and compromise

Ruth Marcus comes up with what she terms five myths and a slur on Social Security. The myths are all basically variations on the theme, "it's not broke too bad and we can fix it easily."

It ISN'T broken too bad, although that's not to say that we should ignore it. But it doesn't need the kind of radical procedures de facto President George Bush wanted it to undergo.

Marcus says the slur is, "Social Security is only a big deal to people who hate the program and want to see it destroyed -- or to their ignorant dupes."

Look, some of the people DO want to see it destroyed. There is a significant minority out there - overwhelmingly conservative Republicans - who have never reconciled to FDR's most popular and perhaps enduring social program because it doesn't fit with their stated vision of a truly small government with no entitlements. (Except for the entitlements for big farmers, oil companies, and the like.)

And in any case, Bush's privatization idea perhaps was not intended to destroy Social Security. But it was certainly meant to help line the pockets of financial service companies that would have been given the fat contract to run people's private accounts. And as for fixing it, the $2 trillion we have wasted so far on the Republicans' grand scheme to introduce democracy and stability into the Middle East by invading Iraq (on trumped up grounds, etc) would more than plug any gap in Social Security.

It strikes me how often commentators fail to see that sometimes assuming the worst about Republican motives is accurate. Maybe they were raised not to think badly about people - but the Bush Administration in particular, and Republicans in general in particular since 1994 have given us every reason to think very very badly about them.

Which brings me to an article about the retirement of GOP Senator Trent Lott, the alleged master of compromise. The article bemoans the decline of compromise in Congress, but it just sort of expresses concern in a vague way, "oh gosh isn't this too bad." It doesn't ask WHY the compromise has become a lost art - it is because the radical GOP majority elected in 1994 under bombthrower in chief Newt Gingrich and his venal little hatchetman Tom DeLay were uninterested in compromise, and positively spurned it. Their idea of a compromise, shared by Bush, is "do it MY way and I'll still criticize you about it later and even if there IS a compromise, we'll pervert it." Ask Ted Kennedy how he feels about his compromising early in Bush's first term on education. The short answer is, "screwed."

Twelve years of such behavior doesn't necessarily predispose the current Democratic majority to easy compromise with Republicans - and the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has tried to invoke cloture 56 times in less than one year, a record-breaking pace, indicates that the Republican MINORITY is filibustering at a record pace. So much for compromise. Trent Lott's departure won't make it any worse.



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