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Bi-partisan unity on Social Security?


The Washington Post reported on January 12 that Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is pressing to form a bi-partisan panel to address Social Security. Joining him is Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who Conrad succeeded.

 

It is reasonable to conclude they assume the program paying one American in six needs to be fixed. The two men plan to make their case to members of the House, Senate and Bush White House.

 

Conrad and Gregg’s goal is to create a panel to address the costs of Social Security and other programs such as Medicare, according to the Post.  Later, the panel would work to have Congress vote on a reform bill.

 

Presumably, Conrad is not the proverbially loose cannon in the new Democratic majority. Surely, Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate majority leader, is aware of what Conrad is doing.

 

Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA), the House majority leader, vowed to “preserve” Social Security about a month ago. Taking her vow for preservation of Social Security with skepticism is warranted with the Post’s report on the policy path of Conrad and his GOP ally.

 

The fact of the matter is their drive to fix Social Security is flawed, as was President George W. Bush’s. Social Security is financially sound for the next 33 years (Social Security trustees) to 40 years (non-partisan Congressional Budget Office), with no fixes required, thank you very much.

 

Recall the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress has garnered much publicity for its call to increase the federal minimum wage and decrease interest rates for college-student loans. Apparently, the party’s economic policy also includes fixing Social Security, long the wet dream of Wall Street, the financial center of the U.S.

 

The strategic context for Conrad and Gregg is the failure of President Bush’s plan to reform Social Security. It seems that the current posse of bi-partisan reformers has learned a bit from the openness of his presidential bid for a major domestic policy initiative.

 

Thus we see a stealth Social Security campaign emerging. Conrad and Gregg are admitting, then, that the details of their plan would lack popular appeal in the light of day.

 

Think of an insect that scurries when the light goes on. Hint: it has an oval body and is one of the world’s oldest insects.

 

As the Post reported, “Conrad declined to provide many details of the panel, saying too much information” could render it stillborn. God forbid he informs the U.S. public!

 

Of course proponents of Social Security reform do not lack funds, with Conrad a case in point. He has raised $2,273,947 from the finance/insurance/real estate sector, or 21 percent of his total campaign contributions of $10,786,295 since 1989, says the Center for Responsive Politics.

 

FIRE donors have deep pockets to fund bi-partisanship for Washington’s backdoor politics against the public interest. Main Street has different numbers, also known as many concerned people.

 

Together, they have the potential to shape the course of future events to meet human needs over Wall Street’s greed.  The class struggle continues.

 

                                                             

Seth Sandronsky is a member of Sacramento Area Peace Action and a co-editor of Because People Matter, Sacramento‘s progressive paper www.bpmnews.org/.   He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

 

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