EDITORIAL 

No Time for Bartering

We are as awed as the rest of mankind by the nimbleness of Congressman Harold Ford's political footwork, but it does matter where his feet happen to land, policy-wise. Ford put on a typically virtuoso performance over the weekend at a forum on Social Security -- managing to sound both distant from and solicitous toward President Bush.

We trust that the congressman does disagree with the president's privatization proposals, just as he said he did. Why, then, does Ford persist in suggesting that congressional Democrats should put something on the table -- presumably as a negotiating tool?

Congressman, something is on the table. It's called "Social Security." And if the Bush plan is as near defeat as it seems to be, with even key Republicans deserting their leader, what's to negotiate? Congress should let Bush's misbegotten proposal die the natural death it deserves -- not give it a second chance at life. n

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