After the first 30 days of his crowd-controlled Social Security public relations circus tour, President Bush has lost support for his Social Security phase-out plan among the target demographic – the twenty-somethings. My age group (I’m 28) has stepped up to say thanks, but no thanks. More importantly we’ve stepped up to say, “What crisis?” Even more importantly still, we twenty-somethings are now thinking about retirement. We might have just gone about our business of paying off student loans and trying to find a decent job with medical benefits (yeah, right). But the president’s assault on our retirement safety turned our collective attention toward a topic that once only applied to “old people” (Sorry).
In that respect, the dialogue Bush started on Social Security has been good. The problem with the discussion is not that he started the discussion, it’s his part of it. If you’ve waded through the mess of political spin, you’ve learned that we twenty-somethings can count on Social Security to be there if we make some small changes to the way the system is funded. The best changes include exactly 0% of Bush’s ideas. If we do absolutely nothing, we will still be fine for 30+ years and then face a Social Security system that takes in 75 cents for every dollar it spends. Currently, at this very moment, as you read this (right now), the Federal Government is taking in 68 cents for every dollar spent. So, by Bush administration standards, sometime in the 2040’s the Social Security system will face a crisis somewhat comparable to the budget crisis currently facing the Federal Government. But I digress.
We progressives and (wince) liberals should be proud of what we’ve done. We’ve helped sound the alarm on an attempt to phase-out Social Security. Republicans are afraid to hold town hall meetings on the subject because they know they are facing a unified front. Only the diehard phase-out brigade is left. That doesn’t mean we’ve won, however. Remember these folks have been after Social Security for 2 decades. Keep informed and keep talking about it. This is not something we can just forget about. Remember, we’re up against the party of Arnold…They’ll be back.