Julie with a B

Monday, May 16, 2005
From Businness Week On-line: "I Want My Safety Net"
Why so many Americans aren't buying into Bush's Ownership Society
George Silli, a 66-year-old waiter from suburban Philadelphia, had a brush with President Bush's Ownership Society, and it was an experience he'll not soon forget. Silli's psyche and his wallet still bear the scorch marks of the 2000 market meltdown. He saw the value of his mutual funds drop by 60% and is convinced that opening Social Security to individual investing would produce similar results on a massive scale. ``If people are left to their own devices, we'll become top-heavy with poor people,'' Silli says.
. . . "
A Sept. 2-5, 2004, survey by the Civil Society Institute, a Newton Centre (Mass.) nonprofit group, found 67% of Americans think it's a good idea to guarantee health care for all U.S. citizens, as Canada and Britain do, with just 27% dissenting. Support for a government-directed universal insurance system is strong, despite GOP warnings about socialized medicine. Similarly, a Feb. 3-5 Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 47% of respondents believe the government ought to guarantee a minimum standard of living for retirees, vs. 35% who felt that was an individual's responsibility.

The most predictable members of Safety Net Nation are liberals who favor activist government. The really crucial bloc, however, is made up of those who backed Bush in 2004. They still approve of his overall job performance but have soured on Wall Street and dislike the President's approach to Social Security. This faction -- estimates range from 17% to 22% of the electorate -- rejects both traditional liberalism and conservative laissez-faire. In an era of rampant job insecurity, when employer-provided pensions and health coverage can no longer be taken for granted, they want a middle-class security blanket that gives them protection as they build wealth."

. . . ."
Democrats would keep core Social Security intact but are willing to augment it with an add-on investment option. ``If the President says individual accounts would be separate from Social Security and was willing to make the financing of reform progressive, he could get Democrats to sit down, and [he would] have a shot,'' says Gene Sperling of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank. ``If he wants to start down the slippery slope toward privatization, why should we work toward goals that are the antithesis of what Democrats believe in?''

But the President doesn't want to sit down with Democrats and work something out. He wants to have his non-plan in place un-changed by sincere discussion of what needs to happen.

And the non-plan that he wants? He wants it gone. HOWEVER, that is NOT what the PEOPLE want. And he knows it:
In 2003, for instance, the White House set out to revamp Medicare by putting a lid on runaway costs of the huge entitlement program for seniors. GOP lawmakers, though, feared they would be hammered over the issue in the '04 election, so tough cost controls went out the window. What Bush wound up signing into law still has many conservatives seething: a $1.3 trillion expansion of entitlements in the form of a new Medicare prescription-drug benefit. It was hardly the monument he envisioned. But it was a testament to the raw power of Safety Net Nation, which -- for now -- seems to be just saying no to more financial risk."

So why are they so intent on pushing an agenda the people DO NOT WANT?


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