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In Praise of Bush's Honesty (Honest)

So Democrats now face a choice: Are they going to be alligators on this one? Why Bush has taken this on remains a mystery. There is no short-term political advantage, and there are other real long-term problems that are more pressing. But he has done it, to his credit.

As this column has argued to the point of stupefaction, Bush's privatization ideas are a mathematical fraud. There is no way that allowing people to manage part of the money they put into the system can produce a surplus to supplement their benefits or cushion the shock of the necessary cuts. But if privatization is truly voluntary, it can't do much harm. And if that is Bush's price for being out front on a real solution to the real problem, the Democrats should let him have it.

Unless they are complete morons -- always a possibility -- the Democrats could end up in the best of all worlds. They know in their hearts that Social Security has got to change in some unpleasant way. Bush, for whatever reason, is willing to take this on and to take most of the heat. And all he wants in return is the opportunity to try something that will alienate people from the Republican Party for generations to come.

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The April 24 column incorrectly referred to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as Senate majority leader.

The writer is editorial and opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times.


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