Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bush's Social Security failure

The Wall Street Journal last week wrote a post-mortem piece on Bush's failed effort to screw-up, I mean, reform Social Security.
Brad DeLong helpfully reprints the article here at the bottom of his post.

Through two campaigns, George W. Bush vowed to fix and partially privatize Social Security, the nation's most popular government program. This year, claiming a re-election mandate and enjoying a Congress controlled by his party, the president finally made his move. Yet now even the president has acknowledged Social Security is dead for this year, his biggest domestic defeat to date. How could it have gone so wrong?...

The article says Bush overestimated his post-election capital and underestimated his opposition.

Embittered Democrats were even more vehemently opposed to any privatization than the White House imagined.

I think that is about right. Bush swaggered into the Social Security debate with his typical mix of arrogance and condescenion and got knocked on his butt. What I would like to see now is for this "biggest domestic defeat to date" to scar his administration the same way the failure of health care reform hurt Clinton and the Democrats in 1993-94.

In some ways it has already hurt him. Bush is currently at the low point in his popularity with the latest polls showing him with only 38 percent support and a majority saying the country is heading in the wrong direction.
If you want to know why those polls are important when Bush won't ever have to face election again look no further than today's announcement that Bush is reinstating Davis-Bacon wage protections for workers cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina.

The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.

The only reason Bush did this is because he was going to lose a battle in the House. He no longer has the political capital to prevail in cases such as this and things are not going to get any better for him any time soon once Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald passes out his indictments tomorrow.

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