President suggests something sensible…

You know, much as I pride myself on my Bush-bashing, when (for whatever reason), the President does something I consider sensible (and most unusually, a sensible tax increase to pay for programs that would be grossly irresponsible otherwise), I intend to commend him. Hence, I will do so for his brief mention at an airport in New Hampshire that he would not rule out increasing the $90,000 income cap on social security contributions to pay for his proposed social security program changes (“private accounts”).
Now, having simply said he will keep raising the percentage rate off the table, but not the absurdly regressive income cap, he eliminates a lot of objections from people like me who might say “gee, it’s all wonderful that we’ll all have millions of dollars in private accounts we can leave to our grandkids and all… except you’ll offset any advantages to the program by bankrupting the treasury to borrow the money to pay for it…” Raising the cap is one of the most painless and sensible tax moves we can take: remember that no one will be effected until they earn dollar 90,001… hardly the poverty line.
Well, here we go. You see, freed from the shackles of worrying about reelection (and sure in the knowledge that his is bigger than Poppy’s), the President can now consider good old tax and spend liberalism, which is precisely what he is doing. He is proposing a massive, massive new social program (costs in the trillions, a/k/a “the ownership society”). Whatever I thought of the ends, by refusing to consider the means of actually paying for the program, the President had to be challenged as irresponsible.
Now, by proposing to actually pay for the costs of this program by current taxation, we can have a reasonable national debate as to whether its worth the cost, instead of the non-debate debate we had over Iraq– where all the benefits of a world free of dictators like Saddam Hussein while none of the costs (thousands dead and wounded, hundreds of billions of dollars flushed) were discussed. We can now do BOTH on social security: costs and benefits. Maybe the President’s proposals make sense, now that he is willing to pay for them. Maybe not. But NOW it’s finally appropriate to talk about them. The President has given that opening. Knee-jerk opposition just because he says it will be a mistake.
Do I expect anything less than shrill hissyfitting from the brethren of my party? No, I do not. But this would be an excellent time to stand front and center and say “Good for you, Mr. President. You have proposed something responsible, and we should seriously consider it now.”
It didn’t even hurt. We can make this a very, very long four years, if we don’t recognize opportunities like this one when we see them.