Friday, February 18, 2005


Voinovich to White House: Senate not ready to deep-six Social Security

From the Chicago Tribune:
Following House Speaker Dennis Hastert's lead, key Republican senators said Tuesday that significantly more work is needed to persuade the public before Congress can pass sweeping changes to the Social Security program.

"It's going to require just a tremendous education effort," said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, part of a group of senators meeting to discuss possible approaches to shoring up the long-term fiscal health of the retirement program. "I don't think a lot of senators really understand the program yet."

During an interview with the Chicago Tribune last week, Hastert praised President Bush for his campaign to persuade voters of the need for personal accounts through Social Security. But Hastert also said the public would not support legislative changes until it believes there is a crisis, saying, "You can't jam change down the American people's throat."

In the Senate, lawmakers seemed to be echoing Hastert as they urged caution before tinkering with seniors' retirement benefits under the 70-year-old Social Security system.

[. . . ]

Snowe, Collins, Hagel and Voinovich have all shown a willingness to break from Bush's positions in the past. In the upper chamber, where each senator has the ability to stall legislation, such sentiments could have significant impact.


Dean Baker's Columbus Social Security presentation to be aired

We are sorry we missed it, but we understand Dean Baker's presentation on Social Security at the Columbus Metropolitan Club was quite good.

Baker, and economist and co-director of the Center for Economic & Policy Research, apparently has a good handle on many of the myths and "bankruptcy" concerns the Bush team has ginned together to create the uber-myth that Social Security is in crisis. Even Paul Krugman gives a tip of his hat to Baker on the subject.

Kudos to the Metropolitan Club, the John Glenn Institute, the OSU School for Public Policy & Managment and Policy Matters Ohio for bringing Baker in.

The best part is that we understand that The Ohio Channel taped the presentation and will be airing it over various public TV channels in the very near future. No specific schedule has been posted, but they should have it up soon.

Incidentally, another co-director of the CEPR, Mark Weisbrot, is quoted in an excellent article from Knight-Ridder that recently ran in the Beacon Journal. Worth reading and probably makes the same points Baker presented.


The Tiberi dilemma

We have received some comments that our assessment of Rep. Pat Tiberi's stand on phasing out Social Security was too kind. Indeed, as we noted earlier, Tiberi's stance does seem to slither like a beached eel.

He apparently has no specific criticism of the Bush plan, such as it is, but we also perceived that he had no desire to be anywhere near the cheerleading squad either.

The Dispatch's Jonathan Riskind, who works out of the paper's DC office, seems to agree with our view, at least as of Feb. 14, saying:
Some Ohio Republicans, including Sens. Mike DeWine and George V. Voinovich and Rep. Pat Tiberi of Columbus, have been skeptical about the feasibility of private accounts."
Now, the it's not like the Dispatch has been really been hounddogging the Ohio legislators on Social Security, but we expect that if Tiberi disagreed with Riskind's characterization he would have objected by now.

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