What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 29, 2005

Bush Flops On Social Security (One Mo Time)

I know that this is an unscientific poll (self-selected and demographically challenged), but I've been viewing these America Online polls for years now and they do seem to broadly mirror the American public's feelings. And, what this poll is saying is that Bush's press conference last night did nothing to help his image or to raise support for his policies.

AOL Poll:

How satisfied are you with what Bush said during his press conference?
Not at all 64%
Very 29%
Somewhat 8%

How would you rate Bush's overall job performance?
Poor 59%
Excellent 22%
Good 11%
Fair 8%

Total Votes: 108,354
Note on Poll Results

Do you understand Bush's Social Security plan?
Yes 67%
No 33%
Do you support it?
No 74%

Yes 26%
Total Votes: 65,440

Do you understand Bush's energy plan?
Yes 63%
No 37%
Do you support it?
No 72%
Yes 28%
Total Votes: 64,753

Do you approve of Bush's handling of Iraq?
No 71%

Yes 29%

Do you approve of Bush's handling of the economy?
No 74%

Yes 26%
Total Votes: 67,538
Today's headlines won't help:

Bush Cites Plan That Would Cut Social Security Benefits
New York Times

Bush Social Security Plan Would Cut Future Benefits
Washington Post

Bush: Rein in Social Security
USA Today

Bush backs sliding scale
Social Security benefits to well-off would be cut back
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
While the Bush is trying to push the idea that his latest Social Security plan would hit "wealthier income" this paragraph from the NYT is more truthful:

Under the proposal, first developed by Robert C. Pozen, an investment executive, benefit cuts would be imposed gradually on future retirees. The cuts would fall most heavily on people at upper income levels. The cuts would be less, but still substantial, for middle-income workers. Low-income people would suffer no benefit cut at all. Politically, the plan has the advantage, in the White House's view, of being attractive to moderate Democrats by making the system more progressive. (emphasis added)
Or as Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) put it on CNN last night, if you retire with an income of $60,000, you would get a 40% cut in benefits.



That's hardly what most people would consider "wealthy" which is the way that the Repugs are going to try to spin this.

But as the above poll shows, it looks like the American public simply isn't going to buy it.

Give it up, Bush -- you aren't fooling anyone but yourself and those who have drunk most deeply from the bottomless pitcher of Kool-Aid.


xranger said...

I don't know how the SocSec revamp discussion will end, but Bush has never been one to look at polls. He leads by his core principles, and the majority of Americans approve of this (see election returns).

The Democrats appear to be in disarray, with nothing to add but negativity to every argument, and nothing of substance. That will only go so far.

Look for them to cave on the filibuster, for this round, and send out their minions to needlessly scare the masses (see the headlines noted in your posting). They'll save the threat of the Senate nuclear option on filibusters for either a Supreme Court nominee or a SocSec vote.

Maria said...

Bush has never been one to look at polls.

Bush has never been one to look at newspapers either.

But seriously, he has Karl Rove to look at the polls for him. I mean, c'mon! The whole reason he had a press conference last night was because he is slipping in the polls!

And, he's really doing badly in the public on Social Security, hence the repackage of his plan last night after 60 days of stumping for it with his own base didn't help.

Are you seriously trying to say that he had no idea that he's been slipping in the polls overall and that the public doesn't want his social security plan? If that is the case, then while he doesn't look at polls, he must be a puppet-on-a-string who blindly does whatever his handlers who do look at polss tell him to do.

Take you're pick.

xranger said...

The point I was trying to make was that while Bush is not a slave to polls, he does go out of his way to sell his ideas. If he had stared at the polls he never would have gone, or at the very least stayed, in Iraq.

He does what he feels is right, and then goes on to sell it. If he can't sell it, look for him to change the main selling point - private accounts.

I think he is still in the fight. My advise to you is to stop under-estimating him, he's crazy (or stupid) like a fox.

Maria said...

Oh yeah, and since the Bush plan calls for cutting everyone's benefits let's talk about what the privatizing is really about:

A desperate attempt by Bush to create a Bush Bubble by pumping up Wall Street. Since he's turned the economy to shit, he's got to do SOMETHING that looks successful -- so what if it's gambling away folk's taxpayer dollars with lies about what they'll get in return.

Maria said...

If he goes out of his way to "sell his ideas" why have closed town halls?

xranger said...

"Since he's turned the economy to shit" - make your case here.

What has he done to harm the economy?

What should government do for the economy?

Finally, since SocSec was never intended to be the main retirement fund for all people, why are the ideas you cited so wrong? The plan was developed by FDR to get the elderly above the poverty line - nothing more. If, as you say, the lower class is not adversely affected, and the middle class is slightly affected, and the wealthy are most effected (and can opt out if they want), how is this going against the plans founding premise?

Maria said...

What has he done to harm the economy?

Hmm...Why will SS experience a shortfall in the future? Hmm...I mean we had one nice surplus when Chimpy McFlightsuit came into office. Gee...I seem to remember getting a check for $300 that changed my life...yeah, it changed all our lives by spending the money that should have been for the boomer's SS to give Cheney and Chimpy and their buddies checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I seem to recall folks asking Chimpy what if there was an emergency down the road...can't really remember his answer (I'm sure someone on the Right was still sniggering at the phrase 'lock box' at that point).

Oh yeah, but then of course we did have an emergency (9/11) and then we had a FAKE emergency (WMDs) and bye, bye surplus -- hello backbreaking deficit! And, the foreign markets were not happy with our deficits and the dollar slide and the euro and yen rose. (Man, this is starting to sound Biblical, I'll go with it.)

And yeah I say unto you that the ManChild in the Great Western Country promoted the Outsourcing of Jobs saying, this is good. But lo, the people were not as sure and their confidence in the land did fall further. And a great pox of No Job Creation was upon the land, and the people said, this is not good. And when the people could find a job the only ones that could be found required them to speak in tongues as one:


Maria said...

Though of course we know that according to the Winger Talking Points:

A president can't effect the economy, except that anything bad during Bush's term is Clinton's fault and that the Clinton economy actually should be credited to Reagan, but Bush 41's economy was all Bush 41 and not Reagan.

Ol' Froth said...

I think means testing in principle is a good idea, but if you couple that with lifting the cap, I think you'll solve any long term structural problem with a minimum of means testing benefit cuts.

Favorite Bushism from last night, "...when you liquify it, when you make it a solid..."

xranger said...

Not bad satire, Maria.

We can go round and round spouting our talking points about the economy (and I'll win, of course), but I'll leave you with one question:

If you are so worried about the deficit, presumably under the guise that it will "break the backs of our children and grandchildren", then why won't you discuss the long-term fix of SocSec, since THAT will absolutely break the backs?

Andrew L said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew L said...

This is soooooo classic (and patently dishonest) -- to call a change in the rate of increase a cut. The current increase in promised* "benefits" is tied to the increase in wages (currently 3.5% for the last 12 months, Not Seasonally Adjusted (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)). The proposal of the president is to use a form of means testing, past a certain level, the rate of increase in "benefits" will be a blend of the rate of increase in wages (3.5%) and the rate of increase in prices ("inflation"), currently 3.1% (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics) (Inflation has an historical average of 3% per annum).

[as a side note, before the Reagan Administration tinkered with Social Security in the 80s, raising the retirement age and raising the tax rate, the rise in projected benefits was tied to the rise in prices, not wages]

So -- the rate of increase is reduced, yes, but the "benefits" still increase.

Tell me again how this is a cut?

* Social Security "benefits" are a promise, not a guarantee. See:

Helvering v. Davis, 301 US 619 (1937) - the Supreme Court ruled that Social Security is not an insurance program -- thus payroll taxes are not contributions that guarantee a benefit, but are taxes like any others.

Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603 (1960) -- [workers and their families have no legal claim to their payroll tax payments.] "To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of 'accrued property rights' would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands." and "It was doubtless out of an awareness of the need for such flexibility that Congress included in the original [Social Security] Act, and has since retained, a clause expressly reserving to it '[t]he right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision' of the Act. 1104, 49 Stat. 648, 42 U.S.C. 1304. That provision makes express what is implicit in the institutional needs of the program."

Richardson v. Belcher, 404 U.S. 78 (1971) The "analogy between social welfare and 'property' cannot be stretched to impose a constitutional limitation on the power of Congress to make substantive changes in the law of entitlement to public benefits." Furthermore, "[t]he fact that social security benefits are financed in part by taxes on an employee's wages does not in itself limit the power of Congress to fix the levels of benefits under the Act or the conditions upon which they may be paid. Nor does an expectation of public benefits confer a contractual right to receive the expected amounts."


Americans' retirement security is solely dependent on political decisions by Congress and the President, and can be reduced or eliminated at any time. Benefits have been cut for many workers over the life of the program. For instance, workers born after 1955 face a higher retirement age; benefits of retired federal workers are reduced, even if they retired early and paid Social Security taxes; and the benefits of individuals who work after retirement are reduced.

Personal retirement accounts would provide workers with a legal, contractual property right to retirement benefits. In addition, personal accounts have a higher rate of return (over any given 10 year period, [including the stock market crash of 1929], the average annual real (after inflation) rate of return is approximately 7%) and can be passed down to an individual's heirs.