THAT WAS QUICK….The Washington Post reports that Bill Frist has publicly admitted that private accounts are in big trouble:

The Senate’s top Republican said yesterday that President Bush’s bid to restructure Social Security may have to wait until next year and might not involve the individual accounts the White House has been pushing hard.

….”In terms of whether it will be a week, a month, six months or a year, as to when we bring something to the floor, it’s just too early,” Frist said.

….House leaders have said they want the Senate to go first in passing Social Security legislation. That is because they are pessimistic about picking up Democratic support, and they do not want to put GOP members in the position of passing a controversial bill that then dies in the Senate, leaving a ripe issue for Democrats in 2006.

You don’t say stuff like this in public unless you’re pretty close to giving up. Combine that with pessimism from other Republican senators and Tom DeLay’s unwillingness to even address Social Security unless the Senate goes first, and I think it’s safe to say that privatization is doomed. And if it’s doomed this year, it’s sure as hell doomed next year, with midterm elections approaching.

At this point, the only question left is how hard Bush will try to cut some kind of compromise deal with Democrats. And about all I can about that is: Don’t. Don’t do it unless you get something really good in return. And even then, you probably still shouldn’t do it. Caveat emptor.