Devils in the details

Robert Novak writes:

For many Republicans, the Bush Social Security bill is beginning to look like a bridge too far. They would like to abandon what they see as an impossible quest. However, the president is committed — a commitment that now is not limited to personal accounts but necessarily includes basic revision of how Social Security is financed and distributed.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a first-term Republican senator from South Carolina, has taken the lead in searching for a bill that would attract a few Democrats who are essential for passage. Three months ago, he proposed raising above $90,000 the amount of individual income subject to the Social Security payroll tax in order to pay “transition costs” for personal accounts. That brought down the conservative house on Graham for “negotiating with himself.”

Many things have happened since then. Bush said that raising the tax cap is on the table

Surprise, surprise. Instead of replacing the Ponzi scheme, it appears likely that the total tax base will be raised, thus allowing personal accounts to replace personal income. Which, as I wrote on Monday, would be a net LOSS of freedom, instead of the expansion of freedom it is being portrayed as.

The only good Social Security reform is elimination. Given the enthusiasm of America’s most vocal and politically active group for the program, that would appear to be extremely unlikely.