GOP May Seek a Deal on Accounts

GOP May Seek a Deal on Accounts (WaPo)

President Bush is still in the opening phase of a campaign to sell the public and Congress on his ambitious plans for Social Security, but some Republicans on Capitol Hill have decided it is not too early to begin pondering an exit strategy. With polls showing widespread skepticism of Bush’s proposed individual investment accounts and Democratic lawmakers expressing nearly uniform opposition, some allies of the president are focused on possible split-the-difference deals.

As described in interviews, most of these compromises would involve Bush significantly scaling back his proposals for restructuring the popular benefits program. In exchange, he could still claim an incremental victory on what he has described as his core principles: enhancing the long-term solvency of Social Security and giving younger Americans options to invest more of their retirement money.

In one example, Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Fla.) said, a compromise might involve merging Bush’s proposal with plans — some backed by Democrats — that create government-subsidized savings plans outside Social Security. Under this scenario, Bush’s proposal to divert 4 percent of an individual’s Social Security payroll tax would become 2 percent or less.

Compromise in a system designed with extensive checks and balances? Shocking.

If the president can get this deal, he should certainly take it. Once the camel’s nose is under the tent, and the public’s fears of partial privitization are allayed, the margins can be increased. And a mandatory savings plan makes some sense, depending on how it’s structured.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anything is better than paying 12% your whole working life and being means-tested into getting ZERO after retirement.

  2. DC Loser says:

    Funny talk about compromises from the same people that are talking about using the “nuclear option” in the senate.

  3. James Joyner says:

    DCL: I don’t see how that follows. Changing the rules to preclude a minority from tying up nominees, whom the Constitution only requires a simple majority, isn’t really related to trying to build consensus on an issue without majority support.

  4. DC Loser says:

    We may disagree now about the nuclear option but I remember the years when the GOP were in the political wilderness and today’s memory seems very short. I just think it’s a bad idea to do away with some of the protection the minority enjoys in the Senate, as someday the GOP will live to regret that decision. I do believe the filibuster is a tool of compromise, even if it’s just a 40 member minority that’s obstructing the will of the majority.

  5. Clint Lovell says:

    This is dumb politics. What kind of compromise do we want to make?

    Oh, yeah – now I get it. We’ll let you raise taxes on us like you did with GW’s Dad so you can turn around and use it against us in the next election when the economy takes a header because of a lack of job formation, lowered market confidence, accelerated currency devaluation, and reduced capital investment this will undoubtedly create unless monkey’s fly out of Ted Kennedy’s suit pants.

    Then again, we might make a deal on what’s behind Door Number Two, Dingy Harry. We can do a massive benefit reduction so that Social Security becomes a real joke, not just a future fiscal one. No thanks. Socialist solutions to financial matters don’t really work. Just ask the Europeans.

    Nope. There’s only one deal to be done here – complete privatization of these large federal entitlement programs because THIS IS THE ONLY WAY they will ever become self-sustaining, balanced, fiscally solvent and accountable to the people and nation they are supposed to serve. Where else other than the free market are we going to get the $11 trillion those dumb-dumb donkeys “borrowed” and squandered? Santa Claus only comes once a year and his little operation can’t haul that much money.

    Sooner or later. There is no other choice. The only argument now is over how much time and money we are going to waste until they finally step up and do the right thing – no deal.

    If you want to see the numbers and policy components that make privatization REALLY work, please download “The Fix For Social Security” at our corporate website and then smack a lib and say, “I told you so.”