STATE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
The president's State of the Union address tonight was very good. Many pundits will disect the speech and I find no reason to go into it in detail.
The Democratic response is much more interesting to me. Even before the SOTU Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were criticizing it at the National Press club. But their "serious" response - the response of their party - was delivered on television immediately afterwards. I don't think I've ever seen a more limp and passionless performance by a major party leaders than this. Juxtaposed against Bush's confident and uplifting performance, the Nancy and Harry show demonstrated in bright contrast the reason why the Democrats find themselves unable to win the presidency and their numbers shrinking in both the House and the Senate.
What has possessed the Democrats to elect Pelosi and Reid as their leaders? When Pelosi tepidly criticizes Bush for failing to adequately address security issues both at home and abroad, who does she think she is convincing? Are citizens who failed to support John Kerry, who despite his despicable post-Vietnam behavior at least served in the military, really going to line up and march behind the Democratic flag urged onward by her passionless pleas? Anytime I suffer from insomnia I'll be sure to replay the undynamic duo's Mr. Rogers impression. Even nimrods like Ron Reagan are laughing at them during the post-mortems.
The only thing that could have been worse for Democrats is if Howard Dean had gotten on camera and yelled yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeahhhhhhhhhhhhrgggggggggggg!!! Fortunately for the two party system, most Americans switched channels as soon as Harry Reid's wimpy presentation started.
As for Social Security, Bush has an uphill battle but he just might have a chance to get it done. The talking heads are saying that this conversation about SS going bankrupt in 2042 just goes right over our heads out here in the hinterlands. Yeah, we're all so stupid outside the belway...we just can't count!! I haven't counted on Social Security being there for me at retirement since I started paying into it and most people I know feel the same way. So anything that takes some control out of the hands of Washington bureaucrats and gives it back to the individual at least gives us a chance to fix the system.
A few thoughts about SS reform:
The retirement age has to be raised gradually to at least 70. People just live too long now and there aren't enough younger workers to support all of the people who will be retiring over the next few decades. It is stupid to believe that a system where people work from age 25 to 65 and then retire from 65 to 85 is sustainable at anything resembling a resonable cost.
Private accounts have to be a part of any reform. Perhaps the first $100,000 in each account would be required to be in US savings bonds or some other government issue. After all, the only difference between this and the current system is that in the current scheme the government writes these IOUs to itself. Is it really any riskier to have the IOU be written to the individual instead? Structuring it this way accomplishes one invaluable goal - it takes the money out of the budget and forces Congress to stop spending money that has been promised to future retirees on bridges in West Virginia named after ex-Klansman Robert Byrd.
If some increase in the cap on the amount of income subject to the payroll tax so be it. I would actually advocate that as opposed to the president's position against any new taxes. I would subject all income to the tax but lower the rate on all income. This would be a tax break for lower income earners and an increase on wealthier Americans - but in return everyone gets the option of private accounts.
Bush could manuever the Democrats into a corner if he plays this right. And if you don't think he can do it then you haven't been paying much attention over the last five years.
And Ron Reagan is still an asshole. What gives him any particular expertise in government policy and politics. While his father was president he was off wearing pink tights and dancing in the ballet. Jerk.