2018年4月20日 星期五

RCP Morning Note, 04/20/2018: Trouble in Missouri; Haley Stands Tall; Barbara Bush's College; Saving Social Security


Carl Cannon's Morning Note

Trouble in Missouri; Haley Stands Tall; Barbara Bush's College; Saving Social Security

By Carl M. Cannon on Apr 20, 2018 09:17 am

Good morning, it's Friday, April 20, 2018, another chilly spring morning here in Washington, D.C. It was worse 35 years ago today, when the weather along the Eastern Seaboard was uncommonly cold.

The mercury dropped below freezing in Charleston, the latest it had ever done so, distressing South Carolina's farmers and gardening enthusiasts. As is usually the case, the weather became more extreme the farther north one went. Temperatures were so bracing in Baltimore that fewer than 7,000 fans bundled up to see the Orioles, who would win the World Series that year. Ice storms caused school closures in New Jersey, and the runways at Albany airport were unusable, stranding travelers in New York's state capital.

In the nation's capital, however, feelings were warm and cozy -- provided you were inside the White House. Even on the South Lawn, there was a thaw in the air, at least metaphorically. No less a personage than Ronald Reagan said so.

"I want to extend to all of you a very warm welcome -- something ought to be warm," Reagan said that morning, prompting laughter from his guests. "But it's especially fitting," the president added, "that so many of us from so many different backgrounds -- young and old, the working and the retired, Democrat and Republican -- should come together for the signing of this landmark legislation."

So what was this historic occasion? Keep reading to find out, although I'd first point you to RealClearPolitics' front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Greitens Scandal Casts Shadow Over Missouri Senate Race. Caitlin Huey-Burns reports on how the GOP governor's mounting legal troubles have colored the Republican attorney general's attempts to unseat Claire McCaskill.

Haley, Integrity Intact, Is Exception to Trump Rule. A.B. Stoddard praises the U.N. ambassador's willingness and ability to stand her ground amid the ever-unfolding drama of the administration she serves.

Will Smith College Finally Warm to Barbara Bush? Bill Whalen examines the cold shoulder the school gave the former first lady, who left after her freshman year to marry George H.W. Bush.

U.S.-Led Strikes in Syria -- What Was the Point? In RealClearDefense, Daniel DePetris writes that there's little evidence the operation will deter Damascus from leveraging its chemical weapons program again.

Ideas Cost More Than They Used To. In RealClearPolicy, Michael E. Hartmann highlights data suggesting that a continued increase of funding for policy ideas may be difficult for givers to maintain.

Government Doesn't Understand GMOs Enough to Regulate Them. In RealClearScience, Tirzah Duren argues that there's little consensus regarding what a genetically modified organism is, so labeling of them is pointless.

Plain-Speaking Pyle Chronicled America Before World War II. In RealClearHistory, Richard Brownell shares the story of beloved and folksy war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who died in the Pacific Theater in April 1945.

* * *

Early in Ronald Reagan's first term as president, the administration ran aground in its direct attempt to address runaway entitlement spending by curbing the rate of growth in the Social Security program. This necessarily meant curbing payments to retirees, which Democrats gleefully used against Republicans. But even the Democrats beating Reagan over the head on this issue knew that the program was unsustainable without changes, so House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. agreed to the formation of the bipartisan National Commission on Social Security Reform.

Some government commissions are formed as an excuse to do nothing. This one, chaired by Alan Greenspan, was destined for a grander role in U.S. civic life. First of all, it was truly bipartisan. Although the Senate was under Republican control and the House solidly Democratic, both Tip O'Neill and Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker consulted with the minority leaders in their chambers when naming appointees to the panel.

The result was an impressive commission that included four sitting senators (Bob Dole, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Bill Armstrong, and John Heinz) known for their legislative skill and problem-solving impulses, as well as Florida Rep. Claude Pepper, a saucy defender of seniors, and Robert M. Ball, a former Social Security commissioner.

These officials kept one eye on Bismarck's admonition that politics is the art of the possible while keeping the other eye on the inexorable mathematics of entitlement growth. They were also aided by the mixed results of the 1982 midterms -- election returns that simultaneously revealed Reagan's popularity and GOP vulnerability.

In the end, the commission recommended gradually raising the retirement age and delayed a pending cost-of-living increase (Republican ideas) while acceding to Democrats' calls for taxing high-income Social Security recipients.

The complaint from 21st century budget reformers that these solutions weren't a "permanent fix" misses the point. The Greenspan commission recommendations would buy Social Security more than a quarter-century of solvency, an impressive result. They were adopted by a Republican Senate and a Democratic House and signed into law by a first-term president who'd run for office vowing to bring fiscal prudence to Washington.

"This bill," Reagan proclaimed at the April 20, 1983 signing ceremony, "assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future."

With O'Neill at his side, the president made an additional point about self-government. "This bill assures us of one more thing that is equally important," Reagan said. "It's a clear and dramatic demonstration that our system can still work when men and women of goodwill join together to make it work."

"This is," added O'Neill, "a happy day for America."

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

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