Social Insecurity


In last night's debate, Bush and Kerry gave almost precisely parallel answers to questions about how they plan to deal with Social Security's looming fiscal crisis.

Bob Schieffer asked Bush how he would cover the transition costs of moving to a partly private system: As younger workers start diverting some of their payroll taxes to private investment accounts, how will the government continue paying full benefits to current retirees? After hemming and hawing for 264 words, Bush allowed that "we're of course going to have to consider the costs." Thanks for clearing that up.

Schieffer asked Kerry how, if he refuses to consider any form of privatization to increase the returns that workers get on their payroll taxes, he plans to fix the system without reducing benefits or raising the retirement age. After a 229-word wind-up, Kerry conceded that Social Security might need an "adjustment." And since Kerry no doubt will make sure that government-funded health insurance covers chiropractic treatments, that shouldn't be a problem.