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Social Security insolvency is the real issue

Nevada Appeal editorial board

George President W. Bush is now halfway through his 60-day barnstorming tour aimed to garner support for his vision of Social Security reform.

And if this was a show on Broadway, they would have pulled the plug 20 days ago.

All of the polls on the subject show the more Americans know about Bush’s plan to replace part of the guaranteed benefit of Social Security with private accounts, the less they like it.

But perhaps one of the most enlightening remarks made on the president’s tour came from Republican Congressman Jim Leach of Iowa, whose district includes Cedar Rapids, where the president spoke last week.

“I think it is clear that the solvency concern is taking root,” Leach said.

That’s right, people are concerned that the Social Security system isn’t solvent. After all, that’s what the president has been telling them for months.

The problem is, the president keeps talking about private accounts, which even he admits doesn’t solve the problem.

What Congressman Leach stumbled upon was the old bait-and-switch routine. Tell people they have a problem, then give them a solution that doesn’t solve it.

The only problem in this case is the public is paying attention. Social Security is the most successful program of its kind, and gives all Americans the insurance that they will not be left penniless in their old age.

The American people are seeing through this scam. Fix the solvency issue, they say, and then we’ll talk about private accounts.

But it’s unclear if the president is listening. The stops on this tour to “discuss” the issue with the American people are carefully staged to keep out any dissenters who might disagree with his vision.

It is time for the president to come out of his self-imposed cocoon and present a real plan that deals with the real issue. Otherwise, he’d better enjoy the scenery on the rest of his road show, because that’s about the only good that will come of it.