Wednesday, June 13, 2007


E.J. Dionne's selective "Politics of No"

E.J Dionne had a column yesterday more or less correctly calling out all the cliché-spouters lamenting the “system” in the wake of the (celebrated by me) failure of the proposed immigration bill: The System at Work

Appropriately respectful of the competing sides on various issues, he does however reiterate this tired canard:

“The simple truth is that a majority of Americans (I'm one of them) came to oppose Bush's privatization ideas. That reflected both a principled stand and a practical judgment. From our perspective, a proposal to cut benefits and create private accounts was radical, not centrist.”

[(let me digress) I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that that majority of Americans hadn’t actually read the plan (not unlike Congress and the recent immigration proposal or Hillary Clinton and the pre-Iraq NIE) and opposed this plan because they were led to believe that (a) benefits really were going to be cut and (b) the privatization component of the plan was the reason.

Just to refresh our memories.

1. Privatization was VOLUNTARY!
2. Privatization was limited (initially a $1,000 a year to a private retirement account),
3. The only people who would see a reduction in their receipts from Social Security payments would be those who had VOLUNTARILY opted for this account (compared to those who had not opted for the associated private retirement account),
4. The plan did not otherwise call for a reduction in benefits. Instead, it tied FUTURE INCREASES to inflation vice wage growth. Only in Washington (and especially among the Left) are reduced increases considered cuts.
White House on Social Security Plan: February 2005 (end digression)]

This most recent column by Mr. Dionne is partly a reflection on (what else) the recent failure of the Senate immigration proposal (disguised as a cloture vote)…on which he writes:

“As it happens, I wish the immigration bill's supporters had gotten it through -- not because I think this is great legislation but because some bill has to get out of the Senate so real discussions on a final proposal can begin.”

Yeah – vote the bill out so we can have some “real discussions” because this issue is just too important. Of course, faithful readers of Mr. Dionne may recall that during his jihad against the President’s Social Security proposal, he felt a little different about such discussions.

“To everything there is a season. There is a time for the Politics of No. When the time for Yes comes around, it ought to be about affirming bigger ideas and larger purposes.” Getting Democrats From No to Yes

Apparently the time for affirming bigger ideas still hasn’t arrived (or did I miss the debate on the Democrats’ Social Security proposal). And as for the immigration proposals, let’s hope it’s a long Politics of No season.

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