Where Are the Attacks on His Credibility?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Where Are the Attacks on His Credibility?

Democrats and their allies have certainly fired away at the Bush administration's "private accounts" plan for Social Security. But, in all of their counterpunches, I have yet to see one that questions not only Bush's plan, but (more significantly) his credibility on the issue.

Democrats would be wise to bring these excerpts from last Sunday's New York Times to the attention of their allies, newspaper editors, and (last but not least) the American people:
Mr. Bush had long been intrigued by the idea of allowing workers to put part of their Social Security taxes into stocks and bonds. One Tuesday in the summer of 1978, in the heat of his unsuccessful race for a House seat from West Texas, Mr. Bush went to Midland Country Club to give a campaign speech to local real estate agents and discussed the issue in terms not much different from those he uses now.

Social Security "will be bust in 10 years unless there are some changes," he said, according to an account published the next day in The Midland Reporter-Telegram. "The ideal solution would be for Social Security to be made sound and people given the chance to invest the money the way they feel."
If Dems intend to win this battle, they should paint Bush as someone who doesn't understand the Social Security program and how it functions -- or, to put this in the form of a question: Why should we listen to a man who believed Social Security would go broke 17 years ago?

No doubt, White House spin doctors would reply that the Armstrong Commission in 1983 (which convened after Bush's '78 comments) made "some changes." Yet the context of Bush's quote makes it clear that the changes he had in mind were far more sweeping than the bandaid that the '83 commission applied.

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