In a move as predictable as Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, Democrats are using Social Security scare tactics to gain ground before the November election. President Barack Obama is not only tolerating this classic old politics maneuver by his party — he is leading the charge.We have to read halfway through the article to find this point:
Also, with some prominent Republicans still calling for a fundamental change to the system by adding private accounts, the GOP has opened itself up to political attack.Um, kinda important! Indeed, the Republican nominee for Colorado's U.S. Senate seat has called Social Security a "horrible policy." The Republican nominee for Nevada's U.S. Senate wants to see it privatized. So it's not like Obama is making this up.
But really, what's so wrong with the two parties staking out different stances on this issue? Oh, it hurts bipartisanship:
A bipartisan partnership on Social Security — as on every other tough issue, including Afghanistan, immigration, energy, education, deficit reduction and jobs — is going to require trust: trust between the President and Republican leaders to stand up jointly to the extreme forces in Congress and at the grass roots in both their parties, meet in the center, take some political risks and find creative compromises to get things done. On Social Security, that means Obama will have to support raising the retirement age and cutting some benefits, while Republicans will have to back some increased taxation. And they will have to work together and present a united front.I don't know how these Beltway fantasies get started. No, you don't need bipartisanship to get things done. This past Congress has seen almost no bipartisanship, and yet it's probably been one of the most productive since LBJ was in the White House. Sure, Republicans could have aided bipartisanship by voting for more of Obama's agenda, but why would they want to do that? That's certainly not what they got elected to do.
Now, if Republicans take over one or both houses of Congress next year, anything they manage to pass that Obama's willing to sign will be, by definition, bipartisan. But if they're not able to come to terms on Social Security, that will disappoint the pain caucus, but few others. The program is not about to go bankrupt.
I'm somewhat amazed that someone who follows national politics for a living is holding out hope for a coalition of moderate legislators to form a united front and stand up to the "extreme forces in Congress and at the grass roots in both their parties" on a profoundly partisan issue like Social Security. Congress hasn't functioned that way in a long, long time, if ever.