Bush Redefines “Better Off”

Last night, President Bush talked about cutting Social Security benefits for “people who are better off.” Who are these people? Bush adopted a proposal created by a guy named Richard Posen called “progressive price indexing.” That proposal would cut benefits for everyone except “the bottom 30 percent of earners, or those who make less than about $20,000 currently.”

So now people who “are better off” are defined as anyone earning over $20,000 a year. This is a dramatic change from the rhetoric Bush used to promote his tax cuts. A 3/8/01 White House fact sheet entitled “President’s Tax Relief Plan Gives Greatest Relief to Lowest Income Taxpayers,” touts that the “share of income taxes paid is reduced for all income groups below $100,000 in income.”

So to sell his tax cuts, Bush implied that anything under $100,000 was “low income.” Now, to sell his Social Security package, anything over $20,000 is “better off.”