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McDermott a closet Peronista?

Post by David Seago on Nov. 14, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
November 14, 2008 9:24 pm

I noted here earlier this month that the Wall Street Journal‘s conservative editorial page had fingered Seattle congressman-for-life Jim McDermott as a Democrat to worry about in the next Congress.

Today, the Journal took another editorial poke at McDermott on the same issue: his somewhat coy interest in “nationalizing private retirement accounts.”

McDermott and fellow congressman George Miller of California, the Journal editorial warns, are all set to “test Peronist ideas in America.”

In other words, they seem interested in trying to “nationalize” private retirement accounts — 401(k) savings accounts — as Argentina is planning to do.

At issue are proposals that would end the tax deduction for contributions to 401(k) retirement accounts and turn their management over to the government.

The Journal is predisposed to favor individual control over retirement savings as a matter of ideological principle. The private financial sector, of which the Journal is also rather fond, coincidentally benefits handsomely from managing such accounts.

But this fall’s Wall Street meltdown, which has savaged millions of American’s retirement savings, has emboldened liberal critics like McDermott and Miller, who think workers might fare better under a government-managed pension system.

Methinks the Journal is hyperventilating here. A Democratic Congress is no more likely to “nationalize” 401(k) accounts than it is to privatize Social Security. Americans like both.

McDermott, as it happens, is chair of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on income security and family support, which would play a key role in any attempt at Social Security reform.

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