August marks the fifth anniversary of the Hyde Park Declaration. Adopted at FDR's palatial, Hudson River estate by 85 elected Republicans* — including five current U.S. senators — the manifesto set forth the New Republicans* "statement of principles and ...policy agenda for the 21st century."
Consider the Hyde Parkers' governing principle vis-à-vis Social Security: "We believe in shifting the focus of America's ... social insurance programs from transferring wealth to creating wealth."...
"Moreover," wrote the New Republicans*, "the costs of the big entitlements for the elderly — Social Security and Medicare — are growing at rates that will eventually bankrupt them and that could leave little to pay for everything else government does. We can't just spend our way out of the problem; we must find a way to contain future costs."
[T]he New Republicans'* vow[ed] to enact "structural reforms" that will restrain the growth in costs and thereby "limit their claim on the working families whose taxes support the programs." This kind of reform is needed, they declared, to respond to "conditions not envisioned" 70 years ago when FDR created the system.
The Hyde Parkers list three Social Security reform goals for 2010:
"Honor our commitment to seniors by ensuring the future solvency of Social Security.
"Make structural reforms ... that slow ... cost growth, modernize benefits ... and give beneficiaries more choice and control over their retirement ... security.
"Create Retirement Savings Accounts to enable low-income Americans to save for their own retirement."
Prattling from Bush-backers with their targets set on Social Security?
Actually, no. In the instances above I replaced the original"Democrat" with "Republican".
It's illuminating how close the Democrats' plan to keep Social Security solvent with "structural reforms", "choice" and "retirement accounts" is nearly identical to what President Bush has proposed.
Five months ago, including all five Hyde Park signatories still serving in the Senate — Indiana's Evan Bayh, Massachusetts' John Kerry, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, Connecticut's Joseph Lieberman and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln — signed another document. Along with 37 other Senate Democrats, they sent an uncompromising letter to President Bush in which they vowed to oppose any reform plan that creates personal retirement accounts funded with a portion of a worker's Social Security taxes or includes structural reforms that tinker with Social Security's guaranteed benefit.
Ironically, the Hyde Park Declaration anticipates the obstructionism that the party's liberal leadership so openly embraces today. "This is the wrong time in history for politics as usual: for empty partisanship... and for perpetuating the issues and ideologies of an ever-more-distant path," wrote Lieberman and the other signatories. They further noted:
"As the squire of Hyde Park, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said, 'New conditions impose new requirements on government and those who conduct government.' That is why we best honor the true legacy of FDR not by acting as guardians of the dead letter of past progressive achievements, but by living up to the bold, innovative spirit that made those achievements possible."
Five years later, one can only wonder: Hyde Park Democrats, where are you?