Friday, April 01, 2005

Fiddling around

President Bush's perpetual campaign, funded by people who no doubt are turning a profit on giving him money, is now running TV ads denouncing the Democrats for failing to come up with any Social Security proposals. At least he has a plan, the ads say, and he has asked them to contribute their own Social Security ideas, but when is the last time the national Democrats suggested any?
The ad is characteristically and comically deceitful. Given the total irrelevance, admitted by the White House, of the private accounts plan to addressing the Social Security (or broader) fiscal gap, it is a bit like saying: "The house is on fire, and we have responded by drawing some snazzy floor plans for a tasteful renovation. What have they done to fight the fire?"
A further aspect of this lame deceit is the following. Again, Bush proposes a plan that does nothing to address the fiscal gap, and then he asks the Democrats to submit their own ideas towards solving the problem. Transparently, the aim is goad them into proposing tax increases and benefit cuts, as he has been unwilling to do himself.
So perhaps it's also a bit like daring the Democrats to call in the fire department, while lying in ambush with a gun to shoot the firefighters if they arrive.
Not even to mention, of course, that he was looking to steamroller them on this issue with his vaunted but vanished "political capital," and is only asking for their input, for the first time in his Presidency, because he is stuck. So it's also a bit like gobbling up three-quarters of the food and then complaining that your table companion won't share what's left.

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