There was something familiar to me about this part of Bush’s SOTU address last night:
[T]onight I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
This commission should include members of Congress of both parties and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved.
Oh yah, now I remember what this reminded me of: Ross Perot in 1992! From the 1992 Presidential Debates:
Q: how would you specifically use the powers of the presidency to get more people back into good jobs immediately?
PEROT: Step one, the American people send me up there, the day after election, I’ll get with congressional–we won’t even wait till inauguration, and I’ll ask the president to help and I’ll ask his staff to help me. And we will start putting together teams to put together–to take all the plans that exist and do something with them. Please understand. There are great plans lying all over Washington nobody ever executes.
Q: I would like from each of you a specific response as to what you intend to do for retirees relative to [Social Security and Medicare] – not generalities but specifics, because I think they’re very disturbing issues.
PEROT: On the broad issue here, when you’re trying to solve a problem, you get the best plans. You have a raging debate about those plans. Then out of that debate, with leadership, comes consensus.
Q: I want you to tell me how you’re going to be able to get the Republicans and Democrats in Congress to work together better than these two gentlemen.
PEROT: Oh, I’m sorry. Well, I’ve listened to both sides, and if they would talk to one another instead of throwing rocks, I think we could get a lot done. I’d say rather than just yelling at one another, why don’t we find out where we’re apart, try to get together, get the bill passed and give the people the benefits and not play party politics right now… That’s the way I would do it.
Bush seems to be proposing the Perot solution to these problems: we just need to put partisanship aside, work together, have a commission study it, and the problem will be solved!
I’m just curious about one thing. What exactly will we learn from the President’s new commission about the impact of the baby boomers’ retirement on Social Security and Medicare that we don’t already know from these reports:
- “Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs“, Office of the Actuary, Social Security Administration.
- “The Medicare Trustees Report“, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- “Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds and the Federal Budget“, Office of Economic Policy, Dept. of Treasury.
- “The Impact of Social Security and Medicare on the Budget,” Congressional Budget Office.
- “Comparing Budgetary and Trust Fund Measures of the Outlook for Social Security and Medicare“, Congressional Budget Office.
…among numerous, numerous others.
When will it actually be time to put forward some new solutions to these well-documented problems?