Tilting at the Social Security Windmill

By Dana Milbank
Sunday, August 28, 2005

DOUGLAS, Ga.

Pretty much everybody in Washington has stopped talking about Social Security. But not Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.).

Months ago, President Bush and Republicans toned down their pitch for changes to the retirement program as prospects for action in Congress this year grew bleak. Opponents stood down, and public attention shifted to Iraq, gasoline prices and the Supreme Court.

But Kingston, who as vice chairman of the House GOP caucus is the party's point man on the issue, continues to carry the torch. As a pair of town hall meetings Friday in south Georgia showed, it is a lonely job.

"I believe there's a problem" with Social Security, Kingston told 40 constituents assembled at South Georgia College. "Can we get agreement on that?"

Only a couple of hands went up.

"What about the cap" on wages? he asked, raising his hand to indicate he was taking a poll. "Should we lift that?"

No response.

Kingston, standing behind an arrangement of artificial daisies, continued. "What if we raised the tax on Social Security?"

Nothing.

"Should we raise the retirement age? Not one person? Come on, somebody?"


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