Governor Tom Vilsack’s reluctant to declare himself a presidential candidate for 2008, but he is willing to talk about tackling one of the stickiest political issues in the country.
During an appearance on statewide public television last (Friday) night, Vilsack — a Democrat — said he’d be willing to talk about making significant changes in the Social Security system. “I’m willing to talk to the American people about the challenges that we face and the need for us, all of us, to understand what we’re up against and to encourage Americans to participate in building this country into a strong and innovative and creative economy that can sustain a better future for our children,” Vilsack said. “That’s going to require heavy lifting.”
Heavy lifting is perhaps an understatement, as current President George Bush had to abandon his own Social Security reforms in the face of strong opposition from fellow Republicans and Democrats. “There are a lot of things that need to be done in Social Security that we need to have a conversation about,” Vilsack said. That could, Vilsack suggested, include raising the age at which Social Security payments start not for Baby Boomers like himself but for younger people, like his 20-something sons.
If Vilsack does, as expected, run for president, he has a ready answer to the “why you?” question. “I happen to be the only two-term governor elected in the heartland who overcame impossible odds to break a 30-year streak by the Republican party in this job (of governor), with a compelling personal story who during a war and a recession has governed, in my view, competitively and competantly and creatively with a legislature that was never controlled by my (Democratic) party,” Vilsack said. “There is no one who can say that who is currently considering running for this office on our team.”
As for the way President Bush’s team has been running the country, Vilsack cited what he contends are Bush Adminsitration failures in both foreign policy and domestic policy. “To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s famous question: ‘Do you really feel safer today than you were six years ago? Do you think the world’s safer today than it was six years ago?'” Vilsack asked. “If the answers to those questions are: ‘No, I don’t feel safer and the world certainly isn’t safer’ then it’s time for a change.”
Vilsack, a lawyer from Mount Pleasant who served in the state senate before being elected governor in 1998, said he’ll make his decision about a presidential run after the November election. The replay of Vilsack’s half-hour-long appearance on the “Iowa Press” program airs at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.