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May 14, 2005

A Democrat with a Plan

The party line for Democrats has been that no alternative should be presented to Bush's social security privatization plan. Let him choke on his bad poll numbers and wait for the issue to fade away.

Not unreasonable, but I'm happy that Representative Robert Wexler has proposed alternative legislation to solve the long-term social security issue by raising the cap on earnings subject to taxation:

The proposed legislation, which Mr. Wexler plans to outline on Monday in Florida, calls for a 6 percent tax on all income above the current $90,000 cap. Three percent would be paid by workers and 3 percent paid by their employers.

The measure would not require any cut in scheduled benefits or any increase in the retirement age, and it does not provide for private accounts.

It's a plan that would sound damn good to most of the population and would actually make the tax code more progressive.

Given the Republican tax-phobia, it won't pass but it's exactly what Democrats should be doing-- showing that for any idea the Republicans present, Democrats have a better, fairer plan.

Progressives can't win power by depending on people to distrust the GOP. They do need to see Democrats as a viable alternative.

My model here is Newt Gingrich in the 1980s and early 1990s, when he relentlessly attacked the Democratic leadership but also built an edifice of alternative ideas, his "Conservative Opportunity Society" and then his "Contract on America", to make it clear that there was a viable alternative for those dissatisfied with that leadership.

We need to do more than show that the GOP are liars and corporate whores; we need to match conservatives idea for idea, plan for plan. We don't have to cut half-ass deals, but we need the ideas in the debate.

With social security, Bush is proposing slashing benefits for middle class retirees. We need people to understand that this is unnecessary and Robert Wexler's bill is a perfect examples of a better alternative to drive home that point.

Posted by Nathan at May 14, 2005 07:49 AM