|Eisenhower Quote on Abolishing Social Security|
|From the Mailbag|
Re: Eisenhower Quote
I take issue with your posting on the "Dwight D. Eisenhower Quote on Abolishing Social Security."
If he were alive today, however, Eisenhower a committed, if comparatively moderate, Republican would surely object to the way his words are being used. Those who quote the passage clearly mean to imply that it fits current Republican luminaries such as President G.W. Bush, whose proposals for Social Security reform have included reducing future benefits for some.First, you have no way of knowing that Eisenhower would object to how his words are being used.
As it happens, Bush is also a Texas oil millionaire.
But he has never proposed abolishing Social Security, nor eliminating unemployment insurance, labor laws, or farm programs. Hence, the tacit suggestion that Bush and fellow-traveling Republicans ought to be counted among those characterized as "stupid" by Eisenhower is a transparent, if deft, example of partisan hyperbole.
Secondly, one can certainly make a case that Bush is trying to abolish Social Security as we know it, starve unemployment programs, weaken labor laws, and gut rural/farm programs.
The president himself has said in a speech: Social Security is "now in a precarious position. And the question is whether or not our society has got the will necessary to adjust from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. And I believe the will will be there."
For seventy years Social security has existed as a defined benefit social insurance program. What does that mean? It is a social program in which everyone who works during their lifetime gets a guaranteed benefit in retirement. President Bush, on the other hand, is trying to phase that system out and replace it with a defined contribution system of 401k-style private accounts where there are no guarantees at all, just as there are no guarantees in private nesting. He wants to get rid of the defined benefit program and change it to a defined contribution program -- not partially, but totally. That is abolishing Social Security. Sorry, Urban Legends!