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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Extra! Scientists Crack Libel Code! End of Daze Foretold!

By Scientists, I mean me. By Libel Code, I mean the Whitehouse political play on the SS issue. By mean, I mean Maureen Dowd. No, it won't make sense if you think about it. Just read.

After entering the unconscious mind of Allen Greenspan, I was able to foretell the Bush administration's strategic goals behind Social Security privatisation. What has been keeping me up nights has been how he intends to pull it off.

SS is the biggest issue democrats have, once you ignore all the fake issues. Few Democrats can vote for SS reform and still survive the 2006 elections. Their base would tear them apart in the primaries and fail to turn out in the general election. Most Americans are against SS reform, and they may have a point. Why fix what's only somewhat broken? I, of course, love the idea of keeping the fruits of my labor.

The point is, there are only about 47 votes for reform in the senate, unless Lieberman joins, and a minority of the populace in favor. Whatever grand scheme Bush has cooked up, he can't beat those odds. Why is he committing political suicide, I wondered?

I was also puzzled by his implied offer to raise the payroll tax cap. That would be a huge (subjectively) tax increase, in one of the worst economic groups to to tax. Trading privatisation for a tax increase? The left wing has been pouncing on that offer as the best tat they will get. See talkingpointsmemo.com or almost any left-blog for gory details.

Then I saw it- the perfect QB sneak. Bush will trade private accounts for a payroll cap increase. It will be hailed as a bipartisan compromise- but the president himself won't say much about it. It will be mostly dems singing their own victory. At the last moment, Bush will say that payroll tax increases would hurt the economy, etc., and say that the system can be made solvent by changing the way benefits are increased. He may use the COLA vs. wage indexing argument. (everyone will swallow this).The bill will be rushed through congress (a favorite ploy) before the Dems can find a response for a plan that seems superior to one they already agreed to. It will have at least 50 votes, of course, or the operation will be aborted. A filibuster-proof majority won't be required because the Dems won't have time to come up with a rationale and a plan.

Rather, that is the administration's game plan. It is possible that the proposal is so unpopular that the prez won't be able to scrounge up 50 votes. Although privatisation is facing serious resistance, the public is buying the idea that something needs to be done. The dems will be forced to trade for the payroll tax, then Bush will fake left and dodge right. I think there is a serious chance of success- and remember, it is 'W we're talking about.

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