DEMS AND SOCIAL SECURITY….So what happened while I was gone? Let’s see: the blog world decided to hold a competition to see who could be the most nauseating in their use of the Asian tsunami as an excuse for partisan point scoring. Bob Somerby decided to lob another rhetorical nuke in my direction. The Republican leadership figured out that official approval of congressional corruption might be a wee bit too much to take even for true believers. USC won the Orange Bowl and the national championship 55-19.

Oh yeah, and George Bush looks set to announce a Social Security dissolution plan even more outrageous than anyone was guessing. No suprise there, though: we all know that Bush likes bold ideas. The rubes are expecting a $300 billion tax cut plan? Give ’em a $600 billion plan. A 2 percentage point carveout of Social Security taxes to fund private accounts? Pshaw. How about 4 percentage points instead? And while we’re at it, let’s propose cutting guaranteed benefits in half too.

However, Ron Brownstein reports that at least one Senate Republican thinks there’s room for compromise with Senate Democrats. How about if we also raise payroll taxes? That would be a good thing for Democrats to be associated with, wouldn’t it?

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Luckily, Brownstein also reports that even centrist Democrats are backing off from any cooperation with Bush’s privatization plan, and thank God for that. I mean, I’m a centrist Dem myself, and surely my fellow centrists have figured out by now that George Bush is uninterested in compromise of any sort? Nothing good has ever come from any attempt to work with Bush, and nothing good will come of it this time either.

Social Security is in the strongest shape it’s been in for two decades, but George Bush nonetheless chose this particular moment to declare that it’s in “crisis” and needs to be privatized. That makes it pretty obvious he’s not trying to solve a problem, he’s just looking for an excuse to wage a partisan, ideological war for something he’s always wanted regardless of whether we need it or whether it works.

Bush needs to be sent down to stinging defeat on this, and any Democrat who hasn’t figured that out ought to step down and give his seat to someone who does. If congressional Democrats can’t manage a united front against an obvious political ploy aimed straight at the heart of the social safety net, they might as well pack up and go home.

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