Thursday, February 10, 2005

Et tu, FDR?

The Democratic leadership has gone into official knee-jerk obstruction mode over Social Security reform. In a particularly campy display of theater, they trotted out to the FDR Memorial the other day to speak out against the "privatization" of people's benefits. Once again, facts don't matter to liberals -- but let's look at some facts anyway.

On January 17, 1935, President Roosevelt, in a message to Congress, outlined his ideas for Social Security.

"In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."
Veeeeeerry Innnnteresting. FDR himself supported private accounts!?! Apparently. As he says above, he also thought the system should move toward privatization after 30 years. It's now been 70 years and it hasn't happened. Thirty years after this idea, 1965, the party of Roosevelt was in control of Congress. The Democrats remained in control of Congress until 1995. They entrenched Social Security as the "third rail of American politics". FDR started it so you can't touch it, went their logic. However, they never followed through with FDR's own vision for the program. They lauded the hero, but missed his message.

Well, the liberals don't like this bit of knowledge being publicized one bit. They're saying, "How dare THEY invoke FDR! He was OUR president! He would be against this because WE say so!" Brit Hume noted this in The Grapevine segment of Fox News' Special Report.

Following on the new Democratic theme, Al Franken claims Hume misrepresented the facts and has even gone so far as to lamely call for Hume's resignation. "Hume is manipulating Americans’ trust of FDR in order to build support for dismantling FDR’s legacy." Franken is echoing Paul Krugman who said the same about President Bush. Both are wrong. (TCS debunks Krugman here). The President and the Republicans and, I would think Hume as well, have no intention of "dismantling FDR's legacy". Republicans have often recognized Roosevelt (and Kennedy) as one of our country's strongest leaders. But, today's Democratic Party is not the party of either men.

Franken continues, "...this is worse than Dan Rather’s memo scandal." HA! "...Dan Rather was guilty of being insufficiently skeptical of forged, true documents." AGAIN, HA! "Forged, true documents"? Must we really disect the problems with this concept? It's pretty simple. Franken is merely trying to spin something that's not there.

The current Democratic leadership's new refrain is, "There is no crisis." Oh, ok. Wait, really? That's certainly interesting because just a few years ago, President Clinton called attention to a "looming fiscal crisis in Social Security". (Karl Rove artfully notes this here).

Reid, Pelosi & Associates are showing that they have no intention to help govern this country and have every intention of obstructing any measure that the President proposes, out of pure spite. Can we call that obstruction of justice? I think I just did. For all their claims of being the "progressive" party, they sure seem opposed to progress. Of course, if there were a Democrat occupying 1600 Pennsylvania, they would be lecturing all of us about the urgent need to save Social Security "for the children".

It's all just getting tiresome, really. Seriously, Democrats -- get some new talking points for crying out loud! Yours are about 20-40 years old and they're not working anymore! Do it for your own sake. The country has figured out that you haven't meant a word of what you've been saying. It's time to do one of three things: lead, follow, or get out of the way.

UPDATE/DISCLAIMER: This generated some lively discussion when I crossposted it at Redstate. My commentary is based on my observation and my initial interpretation of the text I cited. I am exploring this issue just like anyone else to understand it. I wrote my initial observations and opinions. I said what I said, but that doesn't mean that that it was any sort of final say on anything. Upon re-reading that text, I may have misconstrued the 30-year clause, if you want to call it that. However, I still think there is an allusion to partial, not full, privatization or "personalization" as some are terming it, on some level.

"Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age."

"Voluntary contributory annuities" seem, to me, to refer to a private account. "By which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts" seems, to me, to refer to investment.

In addition, I think the blatant opposition of the Democratic leadership to the mere concept of any form of privatization represents a socialist mindset with which I disagree.

This is a big issue with many complexities and when you throw in varying opinions, it can certainly become contentious. It merits study and deserves debate.

UPDATE II: Thanks to Soccer Dad for including me in this week's Carnival of the Vanities. Welcome CotV and Insta-readers!

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