Wow. Talk about an election, eh? Several congressional seats actually changed hands. Exit-polling data is still stuck in the computers, but there are a few things we can conclude from the elections.
According to pundit Robert Novak, one of them is that Social Security reform is no longer the “third rail” of American politics electrocuting all candidates who touch it. Novak says, “Victories by candidates who vigorously endorsed individual private retirement accounts shattered a tenet of American political folklore: Social Security is the third rail for Republicans; touch it, and you will die.”
Novak reports that despite shrill attacks on candidates who did dare to talk about reforming Social Security, many such candidates won office anyway. But I think the third rail was ripped out of the political track some time ago, when self-limiter Mark Sanford ran for Congress in 1994.
One of his issues was how people should be allowed to plan more of their own retirement themselves. Sanford, by the way, is now the governor of South Carolina. Have recent stock market gyrations again made Social Security dangerous to talk about? Well, voters already know that government is doing a worse job of managing their money than they can.
As Scott Rasmussen points out in his book Social Security Choice , voters have known for a couple decades now that the Social Security Trust Fund is not funded and can’t be trusted. Thanks to political leaders willing to give the voters credit for brains, the “Third Rail” is history.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.