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Bottom Dropping Out of Privatization

Some harsh headlines for the privatization camp.

David Espo, Personal Accounts Tank in Polls, GOP Says, Associated Press, March 9, 2005. The National Republican Congressional Committee commissioned 14 focus groups, the results of which were distributed to Republicans on the hill yesterday. Though percentages are relatively meaningless with focus groups, 31% of the participants least liked the fact that government would administer the private accounts, and 24% "least liked the fact that workers would be required to accept a lower traditional benefit in return for participation." The focus groups reflected strong opposition to cutting benefits, without which a carve out plan is impossible.

Mike Allen, Graham Says GOP Erred By Focusing on Accounts, Washington Post (A08), March 9, 2005. Senator Lindsey Graham, "echoing" last week's comments from Senator Chuck Grassley, wants to narrow the social security debate to solvency issues, specifically and repeatedly referring to privatization as a "sideshow." Treasury Secretary John Snow disagrees with Senator Graham's belief that the solvency debate is seperable from the privatization debate: "[T]he administration is saying that the solvency issue, if it's going to be dealt with in a way that's fair to younger people, has to make available to them this opportunity to build a nest egg through the personal accounts."

President Bush would be upset if he read the papers.

Update, March 9, 2005, 11:52 AM EST: Dave Johnson's updated AP article has some different details, including:

Yet, the data also shows "there is a rejection of the term `crisis' as an accurate description of the state of the Social Security system, and this rejection increases in intensity as the respondents get older," according to a copy of a memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Sounds like someone's been having a positive effect.

House hearings start today on privatization, with testimony from Comptroller General David Walker and Social Security Trustees Thomas R. Saving and John L. Palmer. Saving traffics in bad numbers, while working for Progress for America.


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