Even those who (like me) voted for President Bush must concede that “erupting in political flames” aptly describes the Social Security initiative. The reason is that it proposed to violate the most basic rules of fiscal justice and economic efficiency. Yet if President Bush squandered “political capital,” the Democrats didn’t gain any, because their approach violates the same principles. A workable compromise is fairly easy, and Chicken Littles should recall that both Reagan’s reforms were pronounced dead several times before they happened. The main danger is that the two parties “decide not to decide”: to find an “exit strategy,” and “walk away from the table,” as Fred Barnes and E.J. Dionne began urging their parties months ago. Not to decide about Social Security is to decide — to follow Europe and Japan in committing national suicide.
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