Democratic leaders who doubt there is a developing financial crisis in Social Security and the need for reform ought to listen to the new leader of their party, Howard Dean.
Mr. Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee, in a recent speech at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., said, as paraphrased by the Cornell Sun, "if Social Security were left alone for 30 years, its benefits would be reduced to 80% of what it is now. He acknowledged ... there were indeed problems with the program."
Mr. Dean added, again as paraphrased by the story, "turning to Wall Street was not the answer." (A transcript of his speech isn't available, according to the DNC.)
Although he opposes Mr. Bush's proposal, Mr. Dean at least recognizes the system is in dire straits. As Alan Greenspan, chairman of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System, put it recently, the system promises more than it can deliver; he endorses some type of personal accounts.
Democratic leaders in Congress harm Social Security beneficiaries in the long run by failing to recognize there is a funding problem and thus obstructing a solution. Mr. Dean, to his credit, is trying to lead them in the right direction of recognizing the problem, even if it is too bad he is closed-minded about a personal account reform.