Calculated Risk emails remarks from the president on Social Security reform:
President Discusses Line-Item Veto, White House News Release: "Now, I'm going to talk about discretionary spending in a minute, but I just want you to understand that a significant problem we face is in our mandatory programs. And I know you know that. Those would be programs called Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid.
As you might recall, I addressed that issue last year, focusing on Social Security reform. I'm not through talking about the issue. I spent some time today in the Oval Office with the United States senators, and they're not through talking about the issue either. It's important for this country -- (applause) -- I know it's hard politically to address these issues. Sometimes it just seems easier for people to say, we'll deal with it later on. Now is the time for the Congress and the President to work together to reform Medicare and reform Social Security so we can leave behind a solvent balance sheet for our next generation of Americans. (Applause.)
If we can't get it done this year, I'm going to try next year. And if we can't get it done next year, I'm going to try the year after that, because it is the right thing to do. It's just so easy to say, let somebody else deal with it. Now is the time to solve the problems of Medicare and Social Security, and I want your help."
Talking Points Memo also discusses Bush's comments and begins "tracking some positions here on Social Security, now that the president has announced he's going to take another stab at phasing out Social Security next year." PGL at Angry Bear adds:
Treasury Secretary nominee Henry Paulson said Tuesday that letting tax rates rise would be a mistake ...
So how would he reduce the deficit?
Treasury Secretary nominee Henry Paulson said ...America faces a "formidable challenge" funding government health and retirement plans and must tackle it soon. An aging population that will increasingly strain the resources of Social Security and Medicare means the problems cannot be simply set aside, he said. "I really do believe that we need to begin very seriously the process of addressing them because the earlier we step up to these issues, the less costly will be the ultimate solution,"
There does seem to be a bit of a renewed push, so we shall see if it goes anywhere, but for now I think this is posturing for the elections in the fall. While the administration would like to privatize Social Security, no doubt about that, I think this is meant to energize the base and and appear faithful to core conservative ideas rather than a serious attempt to revive reform. But it's worth watching.
Update: Comments so far are skeptical about the "charge up the base for the fall elections" explanation, though I'll note that, unlike last election, there is no mystery about what the Republican's would like to do so those who want to charge up the opposition can use the issue in any case. But if that's not it, and as I noted I'm not even sure a push is coming, what is the reason for the sudden attention to this issue?