Friday, August 08, 2003
The Retirement Age flap http://www.nypost.com/commentary/2642.htm
Dean's Democratic foes have privately grumped about this for months, but it came into high relief when he got challenged at yesterday's AFL-CIO debate on whether he'd ever backed raising the retirement age to 68 or 70 - a big no-no for a union crowd. "I have never favored Social Security at age of 70, nor do I favor one of 68," Dean insisted.
The problem is, just six weeks ago, Dean told NBC, "I would also entertain taking the retirement age up to 68." So Dean wasn't telling the truth to the unionists, unless you split hairs about the meaning of the word "favor." And in 1995, Dean told CNN that "I absolutely agree" that America must "increase the retirement age."
Dean aides now admit he "misspoke" at the AFL debate. Dean liked the higher retirement age back in 1995, but won't propose it now, said policy spokesman Jeremy Ben-Ami. But that statement doesn't explain why Dean said he'd "entertain" it just six weeks ago.
This is the danger of the spotlight - an increased attentiveness to the letter, if not the spirit, of words. Dean was actually accused of preferring a retirement age of 70 by Dennis Kucinich and Dean shut him down (for great coverage of the AFL-CIO forum, see Not Geniuses).
I think that there is indeed a chasm of difference between Dean admitting that the retirement age might need to be "on the table" and actually "favoring" such an action (and Dean never advocated raising it to 70). Of course I am biased, but watch for this to become a talking point especially as Gephardt tries to jockey for position in Iowa. What Dean needs to do is get a policy statement out quickly that explains why there might be a need for a retirement age of 68, but what other solutions he would prefer. The spin cycle cannot be left unwatched.
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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.