Say this out loud:
"There is no crisis." Repeat. "There is no crisis."
President Bush continues to lose support for his plan to adulterate the Social Security safety net by carving out private investment accounts. More importantly, people become more opposed to his plans after he presents his case. The Washington Post published this item online today:
Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they approved of the way Bush is handling Social Security, down three points since January and the lowest level of support for Bush on this issue ever recorded in Post-ABC polls.
Bush has made Social Security reform the cornerstone of his domestic policy agenda. But his efforts to win public support for his proposals to change the system appear to be having just the opposite effect, according to the poll.
Nearly six in 10--58 percent--say they are more inclined to oppose administration's reform plans as they learn more about it. Only a third say they are more receptive to Bush's proposals as more details become available.
Other polling organizations report the same trend with regard to Social Security.
Bush's overall approval rating may or may not be stable, however. As the Post article describes it, "Bush's overall job approval rating stood at 50 percent, unchanged from last month and nearly exactly where it was a year ago. Currently, 48 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president."
Interestingly, Gallup polls its masses and applies the same kind of mathematics genius that the Bush administration uses to illustrate the benefits of privatization. On 15 February 2005, in a piece titled "Bush's Social Security Ratings in the Red," Bush's overall approval rating was pegged at 57%. [The Gallup site's link to the original article limits access to subscribers. The complete article has been preserved by a subscriber at this site.]
As of today, the public tilts against Bush's handling of Social Security, although not strongly. A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found 43% of Americans approving of his performance on the issue and 48% disapproving.
This somewhat anemic result cannot be explained away by other factors: In the same poll, Bush's overall job approval was a healthy 57% and his approval score was 50% or better for both the economy and foreign affairs. No, it appears that Bush's negative rating on Social Security is specific to that issue.
On 5 March 2005, however, the Gallup site introduced another article about Bush's inability to sell his plan:
Majority Disapproval for Bush on Social Security
Overall approval rating steady at 52%
by Jeffrey M. Jones
George W. Bush's ratings for handling Social Security have dropped in recent weeks as debate on the issue has intensified, with a majority now disapproving. Additionally, Americans today perceive less urgency for Social Security reform: fewer say major changes are needed to the system within the next two years than did so in January. The public is divided over whether the greater risk is to take a private investment approach to Social Security reform or rely on the current system to pay full benefits when workers retire. Bush's overall job approval rating is holding steady at 52%.
Doncha just love it? A five-point loss in approval rating over a two-week period amounts to "holding steady." I once had a sweetheart who was "holding steady" like that, but he got someone else pregnant.
What a remarkable legacy this president is leaving. George W. Bush: Couldn't nail a real issue, but always screwed the people.