As Allen Sloan of the Washington Post reported last week, President Bush tried to sneak in Social Security privatization into his latest budget proposal. Much reference to the zombie that wouldn’t die and all of that. (Sloan made a good catch, although his remark that Social Security is any sense “unsustainable” is, of course, totally false.) It’s doubtful that Congress will want anything to do with that fiasco again. Just today, Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, blanched at even Bush’s more “modest” cuts to Social Security:
“I have no plans to pursue these proposals,” said GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
The budget that Bush submitted to Congress on Monday proposes eliminating a $255 lump-sum death benefit that has been part of Social Security for more than 50 years. It also urges Congress to cut off monthly survivor benefits to 16- and 17-year-old high school dropouts.
Other Republican luminaries, such as Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert, praised Bush’s budget but specifically offered “no comment” on his measures to take away benefits from impoverished widows. It’s almost enough to make them seem all cuddly inside. Meanwhile, the official position around these parts is that Social Security needs to be expanded, not trimmed—in particular, disability insurance is sorely inadequate for hundreds of thousands of workers at present—but that doesn’t seem to be on the agenda right now.