A few thoughts on where we are right now on the phase-out debate.
The president has hit a brick wall on his first attempt at beginning the phase out of Social Security. If you look at how the debate has evolved over the last six weeks and why the public is turning against the president's plan, you see that it has become increasingly clear to the public that private accounts damage Social Security.
Simple as that.
It takes money out of Social Security -- an extremely popular program -- and puts it toward creating the president's private accounts. You can't be for protecting or strengthening Social Security and also be for private accounts since the two goals are diametrically opposed, inimical to each other.
So it makes sense to call it what it is, a raid on Social Security. Not a raid on the Trust Fund as folks used to bandy about in the last decade. But snaking money out of Social Security itself.
That is still the president's preferred policy. And the public is turning against it.
So what is there to talk about as long as that is the case? The Democrats are for preserving Social Security; the president is for partially (or eventually totally) phasing it out and replacing it with private investment accounts and reduced guaranteed benefits.
The two objectives don't admit of compromise. The solution is to have a full public debate, see who the public supports, and then vote.
The president has the executive branch and both houses of Congress. He can pass what he wants if he can control his Republicans and scrape together a handful of Democrats in the senate.
But what basis could Democrats find on which to compromise as long as the president won't commit to maintaining and strengthening Social Security in its current form rather than partially phasing it out?