George W. Bush speaks on Social Security at the Rancho Cucamonga Senior Center in California, during his 2000 campaign. At the time, Bush outlined a plan that would allow workers to invest part of their payroll taxes in private accounts. (AP/Eric Draper)
Social Security is often is called the third rail of American politics -- a candidate who takes a wrong step can get killed. This week, Senator John Kerry has been trying to push President Bush off the tracks and onto the third rail -- charging that the president is planning a "January surprise" if he's re-elected that would "privatize" Social Security and cut benefits. The Bush campaign says Kerry is trying to scare voters -- and that Bush's plan to reform Social Security is hardly a secret.
"It's hard to call something that was announced in front of 28 million people at the convention a surprise, but there is a difference of opinion. George W. Bush thinks Social Security is something to deal with now, while John Kerry thinks it is something that can be postponed."
"It's big, it's real, but Kerry is right, it is unfolding in slow motion. Over the next 10, 15, 20 years there will be a funding gap. The longer you wait, the more dramatic and painful reform will be."
"The big date in this is 2018, that is when the Social Security trustees estimate that the payout is going to exceed the revenue from FICA taxes."
"President Bush's position is consistent with the way that he embraces leadership. He is a risk-taker and he is not hiding in the shadows from the Social Security bogey man."