Today Greenspan weighed in on Social Security privatization. As with much of his history of testimony before Congress, there was something to please everyone. Read this NY Times story for some details.
The Bush people no doubt will walk away pleased that our monetary Yoda came out in favor of privatization, at least in theory. We opponents will focus on the rest of what he said: The Bush plan is far to hasty and costly. He also says that Congress should consider raising payroll taxes, which the president has ruled off the table.
Speaking of ruling things off the table, former dean of the Fainthearted Faction ex-Rep. Charlie Stenholm yesterday blamed the Democrats for ruling privatization off the table. CongressDaily quotes him, "When anyone begins to take anything off the table, that narrows our ability to get to a solution." Er, has he looked at the president's proposal? Bush has made most elements of Social Security policy non-negotiable, making it all but inevitable that were privatization to occur it would be costly and rapid, contrary to Greenspan's wishes, and would do nothing to make the financing of Social Security either more stable or less regressive.
The GAO's Comptroller General, on the other hand, says that the president's strategy has turned what should be a serious policy debate into a partisan game. Couldn't agree more, though from his other comments he seemed to see more urgency than is warranted.
Among the others who spoke, Trent Lott's stand out as the most peculiar. He said that he would prefer the House to act first on Social Security privatization since "on stuff like this they're smarter than us and have more courage than us." Read: Have more party discipline and don't have to worry about filibusters. Having more expertise has nothing to do with it. As CD points out, that also means the House GOP would be left to hang out to dry if they passed a privatization bill only to see it stall in the Senate. Then Lott said that there is an eighteen month window to get this done, and that window is only available in a president's second term. In other words, there is hell to pay electorally by getting out in front of this issue. Which is exactly why he wants the House to act first (even though their electoral pressures, with two-year terms, is even greater). As I said, rather peculiar.
Oh, and Santorum was his usual hardline self.