For the first time in the Social Security reform debate there's been some good news. After months of galloping around the country repeatedly linking the idea of "personal accounts" with the program's long-term financial health, President Bush has decided to embrace reality and acknowledge that the two have little or nothing to do with each other.
This isn't exactly an earthshaking admission, mind you. It falls more into the category of, say, Shaquille O'Neal admitting he's never going to be the winning jockey at the Kentucky Derby. The president's own people have been quietly saying private accounts aren't the answer to Social Security's solvency for months.
But let's not quibble. At least Mr. Bush finally concedes the well-known awful truth about this debate: Fixing the program's long-term outlook is going to involve benefit cuts or tax increases or both. That's why Congress didn't exactly stand up and cheer when the president announced his desire to take on the problem.
Now comes the ugly part - figuring out who gets what taken away. And that means we, as a nation, are running headon into one of our biggest bugaboo questions: Who is the middle class?
Well, you are, of course. And me, while we're at it. The middle class is the backbone of the country - all those hard-working Americans who get up every morning and make this great country of ours strong. That's the politician's answer every four years, and it's wonderful to recite as "America the Beautiful" plays low in the background. But that's not going to cut it this year, because money is actually going to be at stake.