Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Developing the negative

From a New Yorker Q&A on the Democrats’ prospects in 2006 and beyond:

But that’s all about negatives—the President’s negatives, the congressional Republicans’ negatives. Can the Democrats win on the negatives alone, or do they need to have a positive program to offer?
The Democrats can probably win on the negatives for the 2006 elections, but those who think they can go negative and win the White House in 2008 are kidding themselves. For one thing, George W. Bush won’t be running in 2008; it could be someone like John McCain. Even now, it’s not the easiest thing to be solely negative. Americans are optimists; they want to hear positive solutions to problems. The Democrats don’t have one stellar spokesman for the party, or an overwhelming unified message.
Which is why I think this ploy will end up as a marginal negative for the Democrats:

Social Security is baack! But this time Democrats are going to ride it, attacking the failed reforms pushed by President Bush. It's an old scare tactic, but it works. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who runs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, plans a "big discussion" about how the Republicans would use their re-election to majority power this fall to privatize the program. And at a time when many are worried about their economic security, Democrats say, they don't want their retirement benefits messed with.
In other words, the Democrats are happy to imperil the long-term fiscal health of the country for short-term political gain, while offering no solutions. Here’s what the green eyeshades say in the Social Security Trustee report:

Although the program passes our short-range test of financial adequacy, it continues to fail our long-range test of close actuarial balance by a wide margin. Projected OASDI tax income will begin to fall short of outlays in 2017, and will be sufficient to finance only 74 percent of scheduled annual benefits in 2040, when the combined OASDI trust fund is projected to be exhausted.
Tough luck, kids! Thanks for all the payroll taxes, suckers!

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