Killing Privatization, Again

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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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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