Politically speaking, it seems ridiculous for the Bush administration to bring up their privatization scheme for Social Security again before the mid-term elections. The last push the administration made for shifting the federal retirement program funds into private hands failed miserably simply because the American people don’t want this popular program to be messed with. So why bring it up again now?
The only things that have changed since the last SS privatization push are, President Bush’s poll numbers have slid even further, most Americans say they would prefer Democrats to run the Congress and the Republican Medicare prescription drug program has been rolled out and has proved a disaster for seniors all across the country. Not exactly the kind of political capital necessary for a dramatic overhaul of one of the most popular government programs ever created. Privatizing Social Security was a loser last year and it will be a loser for Republicans again this year, which makes me think that actually getting the scheme instituted is not the real reason the White House is bringing it up again.
One of the major complaints the American people have right now is the lack of oversight of this executive branch by Congress. Republicans running for re-election are trying to assert their independence and show that they are willing to stand up to the Bush administration. What could be better than a bunch of Republican House and Senate members standing on the steps of the Capitol, shoulder to shoulder like Vegas showgirls, vowing to protect Social Security? They can put on a show about how concerned they are for our seniors and for the health of the program, acknowledging the solvency problem but standing firm by shouting in unison, “this plan goes too far and our first priority is protecting this program for our seniors today and for generations of seniors to come.” If I was Karl Rove, this is exactly the kind of photo-op that I would set up.
At this point, the Republicans are only interested in holding on to their majority. They have no interest in governing, why would they, they don’t believe that government works anyway. But beyond the normal Republican cynicism that pushes to end regulation of industry, roll back social progress and put public funds into the hands of private wealth collectors, I get the sense that now they have abandoned even those objectives in favor of doing nothing substantive and focusing solely on hollow political posturing. The Republican led Congress can’t fix Social Security, or the deficit, or the loss of jobs, or the stagnant wages for workers, or the hemorrhaging of money into the sink hole of this disastrous war, but they can pretend to care about protecting the American people and continue to put a happy face on the war they started and the economy they have reshaped to favor the wealthy while punishing the rest of us.
All of the polls suggest a level of dissatisfaction with the direction of the country that spells trouble for the Republicans in November. This administration has ignored the will of the people, thwarted our laws and squandered our money and they did it all with the invaluable help of Republicans in Congress. As ill informed as many Americans are, we can still feel in our guts that things aren’t going well and the voters are ready to hand the reigns over to the Democrats if for no other reason than to slow down the Bush administration’s attempts to drive our country into the ground. I just wish I had faith that a clean election is possible in November.
With so much to lose, I just can’t imagine that a White House with Karl Rove at the political helm won’t do anything and everything to ensure their rubber stamp Congress stays intact. I don’t know if I can take another round of post election hand wringing by Democrats trying to figure out where they went wrong. At some point, the most obvious answer has to be, at least, given a cursory look. I hope it doesn’t come down to that, but I for one am prepared much better for it this time around.