Will Democrats ABANDON Social Security?

By Conniff, Ruth | The Progressive, March 1999 | Go to article overview

Will Democrats ABANDON Social Security?


Conniff, Ruth, The Progressive


In a paroxysm of pleasure over the Republicans' sex-scandal-assisted suicide, Democrats have been busy closing ranks behind their President. Even as Clinton laid out a series of initiatives worthy of Ronald Reagan, including a $110 billion increase in Pentagon spending, a trade policy that steps up competition for cheap labor, and a first step toward privatizing Social Security, liberal members of his party, except for a few mavericks, applauded him. What's going on here?

"There's enormous anticipation that this fight [the scandal] is just pure political gravy for the Democrats," says Bob Borosage, a former adviser to Jesse Jackson and co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, a nonprofit group with ties to organized labor and progressive Democrats. "They don't want a fight with Bill Clinton, and they don't want a fight with Al Gore. So we're not hearing about the truly big things that are at issue: Are we going to fund the military at Cold War levels? Are we going to privatize social insurance? Are we going to have a global New Deal?"

The Social Security debate is a case study of Clinton's twisted relationship with the left wing of his party.

If Clinton's welfare reform bill undermined the foundation of New Deal liberalism, his bid to "save" Social Security from insolvency and begin investing part of the program's funds in the stock market may finish the job.

Many Democrats are supporting Clinton in this effort--even though they don't believe Social Security is in any danger of going bankrupt. They publicly accept the idea of "saving" the system from a projected shortfall, because, they say, that's what the public believes must happen.

"The AFL-CIO has had polling done, and they convinced the unions and convinced me that the rightwing propaganda has been so successful, if you say there's no crisis, people won't listen to you," says Representative Jerry Nadler, a progressive Democrat from New York, who supports the President's Social Security plan.

Does that mean the Democrats are backing a plan to fix a problem that doesn't exist?

"That's exactly right," Nadler says. "The problem is illusory, but you have to act as if it's real."

Republicans favor more individual control over retirement savings--returning Social Security withholdings to taxpayers in the form of private investment accounts. The Clinton plan would retain the federal guarantee of Social Security, but would invest part of the trust fund in the stock market, and would put government matching funds into separate, individual investment accounts. It's up to Democrats and Republicans in Congress to hash out an agreement on the program's future.

Following their President's lead, progressive Democrats find themselves in a strange dance. They are embracing their opponents, keeping quiet about their concerns, and playing along on the theory that if they take the "middle path"--supporting partial privatization, while adopting the rhetoric of those who want to tear the system down--they'll wind up in a better position to save it. Or so they hope.

Nowhere was the perversity of the Democrats' position on Social Security more apparent than in a debate on January 21 in front of the House Ways and Means Committee. Jesse Jackson, former Democratic Presidential candidate, head of the Rainbow Coalition, and occasional White House spiritual adviser, squared off against Jack Kemp, former Republican Congressman from New York, President Bush's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and trickle-down economist.

The mood in the room was overwhelmingly collegial. The testimony began with football banter. Jack Kemp pointed out that both he and Jackson had been quarterbacks on their college football teams (although Kemp went on to play in the pros and Jackson didn't). "Jesse played with many of my future teammates on the Chargers and the Buffalo Bills," Kemp said. Waving his right hand, with his big, gold Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame ring, Kemp declared that he and Jackson share an "audacious faith in America. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Will Democrats ABANDON Social Security?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.