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Blumenthal Says Bush Will Fail Big on Social Security

Category: US Politics
Posted: 03/04/05 16:52, Edited: 04/01/05 07:01

by Jay H. Steele

Former Clinton advisor Sydney Blumenthal suggests in a Salon.com article that if Senate Democrats hold firm in their opposition to SS privatization, Bush will fail and it will have major repurcussions for the Republican Party:

Bush's impending defeat on Social Security is no minor affair. He has made this the centerpiece of domestic policy of his second term. It is the decades-long culmination of the conservative wing's hostility against Social Security and the Democratic Party. Projecting images of Roosevelt and Kennedy cannot distract from Bush's intent to undermine the accomplishments of Democratic presidents. The repudiation of Bush on Social Security will be fundamental and profound and will shake the foundations of conservative Republicanism. Bush's agony is only beginning, if the Democrats in the Senate can maintain their discipline.


Blumenthal points out how Bush draws his anti-SS language from right-wingers all the way back to the 1936 Republican Party Platform, who warned that the trust fund wouldn't be there for retirees. He gives us quotes from Republican strategist Frank Luntz on the need to avoid the word privatization, and on the importance of linking SS "reform" with 9/11:

Republicans, says Luntz, should never use the word "privatized." They should substitute "personalized." "And PLEASE remember that you are NEVER talking about privatizing Social Security, nor are you advocating INDIVIDUAL accounts. You are talking about creating PERSONAL retirement accounts." Republicans should also talk about "personalized accounts" as being about "the future," he says, and remind people that "Social Security was built for a different America."

Another problem, Luntz instructs Republicans, is that the public is familiar with the gyrations of the stock market. "There is a difficulty ... in talking too much about the stock market. The American people are sensitive to the ups and downs of the stock market." So, he urges, Republicans should claim that that Social Security is at "larger risk" if it is not "personalized."

When all else fails, Republicans should simply resort to the fear factor: "September 11th changed everything. So start with September 11th. This is the context that explains and justifies why we have 0 billion deficits, why the stock market tanked, why unemployment climbed to 6 percent ... Without the context of September 11th you will be blamed for the deficit ... Link the war on terror to the economy."


I think Blumenthal is right, but I also think that Bush has barely begun to fight, and that we are going to see a barrage of lies and smears in the weeks ahead. It is going to get a lot uglier before it is over, but if Dems hold their ground, the right wing of the Republican Party is going to be severly damaged.

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