The official Democratic line on Social Security talks appears now to be: They’re fine, so long as the president drops personal accounts and accepts tax increases.
Last week, Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, said that he was “more than open” to talks with President Bush on Social Security, “if the president is truly willing to look at all options.” All options, that is, but one: The New York Times reported in the same passage that Bush would have to give up on personal accounts “before serious talks could occur.”
Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Budget Committee, told Bloomberg News that “[b]oth sides have to be willing to give up their fixed positions.” And then: “There needs to be more revenue.” In other words: Bush has to give up on personal accounts, but Democrats can keep tax increases as a fixed position.
The Democrats don’t want to make any compromises. Maybe something good can be said for that position. But it’s absurd for the press to report, as Bloomberg News does, that the obstacle to talks is President Bush’s obstinacy.