Monday, January 31, 2005


Must Everything be a Moral Crusade?

Just once, I'd like to hear about Public Policy

Well, the GOP had their retreat in the posh confines of the Greenbriar this past week. Plotting and planning on reforming Social Security. Good for them. From what I know here's the challenges:

For the past few decades the social security fund has been in a massive surplus.
The Federal government uses that money to buy U.S. Bonds (IOUs) and spends that money now as part of the federal budget.
In 2018, the surplus will dry up and the fund will have to start cashing in the federal bonds.
By 2042, or so, the IOUs will be exhausted and the fund expenditures will exceed the current FICA Tax.

So that's the challenge. Not necessarily a crisis, but definitely a system in need of some changes. Let's look at all options, including 'personalize' (ie. private) accounts. Although as I've said before, private accounts actually drive up the cost of a solution and it only pays off if future benefits are curtailed. I think the outlines of the president's current plan are intriguing, but actually read more like a BIG GOVERNMENT DEMOCRAT plan than a republican one. (ei.- why do I have to invest in a government run program, rather than pick on myself? How many new federal employees will be required to manage 140 million private accounts?)....

Worse yet, is that some in the GOP keep harping about how they have a "moral" obligation to fix the system. As our elected representatives they have, perhaps, a fiduciary responsibility, but a moral one? When you frame a matter of public policy as a moral imperative, you set yourself up for failure. The legislative process demands compromise and how can you compromise morals?

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