Bush Has Not Proven Privatization Case to Public, Brownstein Writes
A "revolution in private-sector benefits" -- in which employers are replacing programs that give defined benefits to workers and retirees with programs that provide defined contributions -- indicates the steady erosion of "cradle-to-grave promises [of] ... health care security that American business offered during its post-World War II zenith," Los Angeles Times columnist Ronald Brownstein writes in an opinion piece. According to Brownstein, President Bush's health care goals, including a proposal to give tax credits to individuals who enroll in health savings accounts, present "philosophical choices." Brownstein notes that HSAs offer more choice and ownership while "compel[ling] individuals to bear more financial risk."
However, public resistance to Bush's plan to incorporate private accounts in Social Security "suggests that for now, the loss of guaranteed benefits in the workplace has made Americans prize such guarantees from government even more," according to Brownstein. He concludes, "Bush is right that rising costs eventually will force government to scale back its health care and retirement promises. But ... he hasn't yet convinced the country that such a re-examination will require Washington to limit its own financial risk, as employers have already done, by transferring risk to workers and their families" (Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, 5/9).