. . . Tuesday March 15, 2005

The Social Security War

So who is winning the political battle when it comes to the Social Security debate?

On the surface, President Bush hasn’t made much headway with his approach. The private accounts have been outed as being totally unrelated (at best) to any effort to maintain solvency. And an increasing number of people (up around 56% this week) disagree with W’s approach to the problem in general.

But wait. It’s never that simple. Let’s look at the bigger political picture.

As we discussed at the very beginning of this process, the key early goal of Team Bush would be establish that there is in fact a Social Security problem. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, so establishing this was no easy task.

But they’ve done it. The most recent polling indicates that 12% of Americans see Social Security as the number one problem facing the country. To put things into context, you should know that Social Security ranked higher on the list of current problems facing the country than either terrorism or healthcare.

The problem, it seems clear, has been established.

So that leaves us with an obvious question. Who will fix it? As I mentioned above, the public doesn’t seem to have much faith that a further resdisribution of wealth upwards (which is shorthand for private accounts) is the way to go.

That is not good for W. But it’s important to note that the Dems are being positioned as the agents of blocking change, not as the agents of change. And an issue that has long been a winning one for Dems is slowly being stolen by the GOP.

And the Dems cannot now effectively argue that the existing system is fine (even though that might be the right answer in the short term). The problem has been established. The ball that W wanted to roll is rolling.

Will the W plan for Social Security pass anytime soon? Probably not. Is this a losing issue for Team GOP? Same answer.

Concentration is important!