Dems Opposed to Private Accounts. Because?
A few months ago (it was Feb. 3, to be exact) Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and four other liberal Senators (including Schumer) gathered around the ignominious FDR wheelchair-statue to blast President Bush’s private-accounts plan, which would, according to them, “gut” the program (and disgrace the memory of FDR too, no doubt).
These Senators’ choice of venue was unfortunate, considering that the man they were all gathered around (and who Reid was patting affectionately on the shoulder) was in favor of making private accounts a part of the original social security system. He wrote to Congress in 1935, saying that Social Security should include “voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age.” FDR added that the government should only pay for “one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.”
The Democrats don’t mention this, of course. Perhaps they simply forgot that FDR supported private accounts. It’s not impossible. After all, they don’t even remember that just a few years ago they supported private accounts too.
As PBS NewsHour reported in 1998, Democratic Senators Pat Moynihan and Bob Kerrey introduced “‘The Social Security Solvency Act of 1998,’ which would cut the Social Security payroll tax by 2 percent and allows workers to invest the tax cut in personal savings accounts.” President Clinton, in his 1999 State of the Union address proposed that we “establish universal savings accounts” continuing: “With these new accounts, Americans can invest as they choose, and receive funds to match a portion of their savings, with extra help for those least able to save.” Senator Reid himself (the man with his hand on the statue) said in 1999 that “most of us have no problem with taking a small amount of the Social Security proceeds and putting it into the private sector.”
Dems are certainly not eager to quote themselves on this issue (and in addition they are no longer quoting Federal Reserve Chairmen Alan Greenspan -- he came out in support of private accounts too).
So how can all these people now be opposed, on ‘principle,’ to discussing any plan that contains private accounts? Especially when polls show increasing public support for private accounts: an April 25-26 poll showed that 79% of Americans think that private investment should be an option, and that 77% of Americans trust themselves over the government concerning investment retirement decisions. (It is further interesting to note another poll found that support for private accounts drops 6% when the plan is mentioned as having been proposed by President Bush, as opposed to “Some people.”)
How can House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) say that Democrats will do no negotiating whatsoever until private accounts are taken off the table?
What are the Democrats really opposed to?
These moves couldn’t be of a petty, partisan, political nature, could they? Are they merely opposed to the plan because now it comes from President Bush as opposed to President Clinton?
On the other hand, maybe the Democrats really are opposed on principle, to letting us have private accounts. (Though this would seem somewhat hypocritical, considering that they themselves already private investment accounts, known as the “Thrift Savings Plan”). Maybe they are opposed to the principle that it is never a good idea to let you do what the government can do for you. What we are really talking about is just 4% of your entire income, the maximum that you would be allowed to invest (the actual decision to invest, and the amount up to the 4% will be up to you -- you don’t have to invest at all if you don’t want to).
The Democrats seem genuinely concerned that you will take this money -- your money -- and do what you want with it. They emphasize the danger (Reid calls it “gambling” now) to try to scare Americans away from this system. They try to create the impression that adding private accounts would destroy Social Security completely (who hasn’t seen that AARP ad that suggests that Republicans are about to “tear down the whole house” because the kitchen sink is clogged). We should not be allowed to take risks -- and the Democrats cannot, in good conscience, allow us to. And since when have we been able to figure out what to do with our own money any way?
There is a third possibility -- maybe the Democrats are simply opposed to change. Are they reactionary liberals, stuck in the 1930s, clinging to a system that was designed to have 42 workers supporting a retiree as, opposed to two or three? Is this why they have failed to come out with any plans of their own to counter the President’s?
The Democrats are opposed to something, but they have not been too clear about what it is, exactly. There are so many possibilities as to why they don’t want private accounts, but whether they think that we’re too dumb to handle our own money, or whether they can’t stand any alterations at all, or whether they know that supporting the President in anything will not help them back to majority status in congress, the crucial thing that the Democrats are missing is a good reason.
And I for one want to be in charge of my money.