Last year, even though Bush talked endlessly about the supposed joys of private accounts, he never proposed a specific plan to Congress and never put privatization costs in the budget. But this year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday.
His plan would let people set up private accounts starting in 2010 and would divert more than $700 billion of Social Security tax revenues to pay for them over the first seven years.
If this comes as a surprise to you, have no fear. You're not alone. Bush didn't pitch private Social Security accounts in his State of the Union message last week.
Seems the Social Security trench wars are back on. Better check in with Josh Marshall.
Now it just so happens we still have the Conscience Caucus list online -- remember, that's the list of the Republicans who wouldn't publicly commit to phase-out last year.
Are they coming out against Phase Out Round Two?
I wonder how this will play out for the 2006 elections? Grassroots pressure seemed to turn the tide against Round One. Can it do it for Round Two?
Here are more numbers from Sloan:
Unlike Bush's generalized privatization talk of last year, we're now talking detailed numbers. On page 321 of the budget proposal, you see the privatization costs: $24.182 billion in fiscal 2010, $57.429 billion in fiscal 2011 and another $630.533 billion for the five years after that, for a seven-year total of $712.144 billion.
In the first year of private accounts, people would be allowed to divert up to 4 percent of their wages covered by Social Security into what Bush called "voluntary private accounts." The maximum contribution to such accounts would start at $1,100 annually and rise by $100 a year through 2016.
It's not clear how big a reduction in the basic benefit Social Security recipients would have to take in return for being able to set up these accounts, or precisely how the accounts would work.
It will be interesting to see if this gets much press beyond Sloan's article and a sail around the liberal blogosphere. I'm sure TPM will be on the case.