“The urgency ought to be simpler,” Gingrich said. “Every day young people are denied the opportunity to have a personal Social Security savings account, they are cheated out of that day’s compound interest."
Bill Clinton made a political career of putting off everything that could be put off. Call it leadership by procrastination. He succeeded because that’s the way people are. We put things off. Even the most anal, scheduled, organized worry-wart puts things off, particularly things he feels he can do nothing about.
By framing the Social Security problem as one for today, not for twenty years hence, people will respond. No one has an emotional stake in something that will happen in a generation. Ask the tree huggers about Kyoto. But people would respond to doubling the value of their 401k every month.
As Gingrich says:
“If I called you and said, ‘10 years from today your roof is going to need (to be) fixed, would you like to sign the contract this afternoon?’ You’d say to me, ‘How about calling me back in nine years, 10 months.'”
The poll numbers for Bush’s social security package are still good. You don’t need an overwhelming majority the day after you propose action. You do need momentum, though, and you need it before the roof caves in.
UPDATE: Dean’s World (Joe Gandelman) indicates the Bush administration might be learning from Newt.