Sander Levin Off to Promising Start
AP: Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., told reporters in a conference call that his first priority is to "prevent the Bush administration from wrecking what is really the bedrock of income security protection."Leader Pelosi's decision to let S. Levin run point on Social Security is already paying off. He knows the politics and economics of the issue, and Bush's empty threats and hollow rhetoric look stupid in comparison.
"They do it by diverting money to private accounts and by cutting guaranteed benefits," Levin said. "And that would wreck a program that's now providing secure income … to 48 million people."
Bush's opponents have criticized him for repeatedly saying the Social Security system is in "crisis." He used the word only once Tuesday, when mocking his critics during a discussion with Utah dairy farmer Josh Wright, who is in his 20s.
"If nothing takes place, if Congress says, `Oh, don't worry, we'll just push it down the road, why do we need to deal with it, there's no crisis,' if nothing happens, and we don't start moving on it now, by the time Josh gets to retirement age, the system will be flat broke," Bush said.
Scripps Howard News Service: The specifics of Bush's plan have yet to be laid out, but the White House said that the details will be presented in time for Congress to work on the plan as it also works toward an overhaul of the federal tax system.I'll venture a prediction: in three months, Bush will have backed off his plan to abolish Social Security and will propose some sort of deficit expanding boondoggle to "augment" the program. It will be ugly, a superfluous handout to Wall Street, but he will sell it as a benificent boon for seniors that he supported from day one. He will then roll out a marketing campaign against Democrats, accusing them of "scaremongering," of trying to rile up seniors by lying to them about Bush's social security intentions. The rightwing media will follow suit, and Republicans will actually use "scare tactics" as a charge against Democrats in 2006, despite the crisis.
Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, a leading voice for House Democrats on Social Security, said Tuesday that Social Security needs some changing to avoid deficit spending by 2018 and insolvency by the middle of the century.
But Levin said the president was using "distortion, exaggeration and scare tactics" in trying to make a case for allowing the diversion of Social Security taxes into private accounts - a step that many Democrats see as the beginning of the end for traditional Social Security.
"The president needs to reveal his plan now," said Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., a member of the House Social Security subcommittee. "No more catch phrases. No more theology. Let's put the numbers on the blackboard and see if they add up."
Update, 10:49 AM EST: The AP also reports that Bush is enlisting his senior Cabinet members in the effort to gin up support for social security abolition:
AP: To drum up support, speeches are scheduled in the coming days by Vice President Dick Cheney; Treasury Secretary John Snow; Josh Bolten, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget; and Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers.This neatly parallels Bush's deployment of his Cabinet to wage war against John Kerry.
"Each of the speeches will focus on a critical aspect of Social Security and the need for strengthening it for future generations," McClellan said. "The officials will talk about the importance of why it needs to be fixed and why we need to act on it now."