Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Debate; and Kids

Tonight John Thune and Tom Daschle met for their first, live, local debate in the race for Daschle's US Senate seat.

All in all, it was pretty standard fair. Daschle is -- as always -- a master politician, and he has that ability to seem "local", folksy, and downhome-ish. Thune isn't as skilled in that way, but he was effective in raising a number of powerful arguments which will probably resonate with voters of the state, the ethanol vote of last year being chief among them.

But it's the debate over Social Security that is prompting this post. Daschle accused Thune of wanting to privatize Social Security, which would (allegedly) result in a 40% drop in moneys to senior citizens today. Regardless of the accuracy of that number, it's not Thune's position: he believes that younger workers should be able to take a small portion of their payroll tax and invest it in a government-approved investment account.

I'm all for that type of account, for the simple reason that Social Security will be bankrupt by the time I retire, unless some kind of reform (like Thune's proposal) is enacted.

This is where Democratic rhetoric really chaps my hide. Democrats in particular are always talking about how we need to think about our children and their future, and about what's best for them. But what about Social Security? What about our retirement? The fact of the matter is, the "what about the children?" line is a rhetorical tactic in many cases. If Daschle really cared about Generations X and Y (isn't Z around too?), then he'd support real Social Security reform. But since the Boomers are about to retire, and they constitute a considerable voting block, that's not going to happen.

Now to be fair to Tom, there are plenty of Republicans who cower in fear before Social Security reform as well. But Tom is running on his record as a leader who is willing to buck his party when necessary.

If only that were true when it comes to the children.

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