Sunday, February 06, 2005

Bait & Switch

It's a little amazing to hear what President Bush is saying about Social Security. He's done an admirable (if somewhat exaggerated) job of describing the troubles of the current system. (I should note that Medicare is in much more significant financial straights than Social Security, but that doesn't change the fact that Social Security needs fixing.) President Bush then proposes "personal accounts" and touts their benefits.

The amazing thing is that the President doesn't claim (although he strongly implies) that these personal accounts will fix what ails the Social Security program. In fact, when pushed on the matter, the White House press secretary admitted that the President's plan does nothing to change the expected cash flow problems of Social Security in 2018, or its going into debt in 2045. The President's plan takes a certain amount of money out of the Social Security system, and also reduces the payouts by the same amount. The net result is nada.

You may or may not believe that these personal accounts are a good thing. However, we should be given the opportunity to debate them on their merits, rather than having them sold as a solution to the very real problems of Social Security, which they clearly are not. I hope we get that chance in the coming months.