According to the Post/ABC News poll, things started out
bad for Bush and got worse. In January, 55 percent of Americans
disapproved of the way he was handling Social Security. At the
end of April, 64 percent disapproved. And for the first time
since 2000, a majority of Americans said they opposed a plan in
which people could choose to invest some of their Social
Security funds in the stock market.
The decline in the stock market has not helped Bush make
his case. At the end of April, the Dow Jones industrial average
was down more than 600 points from the beginning of the year. Is
there a link between people's assessment of the stock market and
their view of Bush's Social Security plan? Absolutely.
In a February Gallup Poll, about half of those who said
they expect the stock market to rise thought private Social
Security accounts were a bad idea. Among those who thought the
market would be static, two-thirds called private accounts a bad
idea. That proportion rose to three-quarters among people who
thought the market would fall. Being bearish on the market makes
Americans more likely to be bearish on private Social Security
Now let's look at California. When Arnold Schwarzenegger
won a spectacular victory in the 2003 gubernatorial recall
election, he, too, had a huge supply of political capital. He
spent it on a campaign to straighten out the state's finances.
Some key Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, gave the
new governor crucial support.
This year, Schwarzenegger spelled out a bold agenda,
including pension changes, spending cuts, education revisions,
and legislative redistricting. "Last year, we stopped the
bleeding," Schwarzenegger said in January. "This is the year
when we have to cure the patient.... That is what my mission is
Critics argue that Schwarzenegger does not have the
political capital to wage all of those battles. Democratic
consultant Darry Sragow said, "He has just picked too many
fights. He needs to pick fewer fights, and he needs to not pick
Schwarzenegger's targets have been running ads against
him. The California Teachers Association has spent $5 million on
television ads featuring complaints from parents: "He borrowed
$2 billion from the education budget and now refuses to pay it
back." "The governor is always running around talking about
reform, but to me, it sounds a lot like breaking his word on
Hundreds of parents rallied against Schwarzenegger in the
state capital last week. "Sacramento is not a movie set. We are
living in reality here," one parent said. "Our governor needs to
understand that our children are not actors.... We don't have
time [to wait] for them to grow up ... we need to invest in the
state of California for our kids."
The governor's response? "Some people say that I have
taken on too much," he told a television interviewer last month.
"Some people say, 'Why don't you do one reform a year?' What do
you think, I'm going to hang out in Sacramento for the next 100
years to create all the reforms that I want?"