WASHINGTON, D.C.—While Democrats argue that Bush has hit the wall with his Social Security proposals, especially the one involving private accounts, the White House disagrees. GOP pros now think the polls show that all the seemingly staged and boring town hall meetings have had their intended effect, which was not to change people’s minds but to persuade them that something must be done. “More people have come to understand the structural problems facing Social Security’s solvency over the last two months and thus, the issue has become more important to them,” Ken Mehlman, the party’s National Committee chair, wrote in a memo last week to committee members.
Ayres McHenry & Associates, a Republican outfit, says 66 percent of Americans over 55 think legislation is needed to change the system. The Battleground 2006 poll says Social Security is Bush’s top problem. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll says 72 percent of Americans think Social Security faces a crisis and must be changed if it is to keep going. Gallup reports that 51 percent of Americans think legislation must be passed to fix the system.
“The battle we are fighting is to convince the Congress that something needs to be done to fix Social Security, and if you look at it through that model, the campaign has been very effective,” Derrick Max, head of the Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of American Social Security, told The Washington Times. His group works with the White House on pushing the Bush proposals.
Then comes the clincher. As Max explained, “At some point in the second phase of this campaign, we will start talking about solutions and personal-accounts-based reform.”
Additional research: David Botti
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 22, 2005