I think Jon Henke misses a little something amidst his total confusion over Democratic distaste for Bush's attempts to turn Social Security into a welfare program. Democrats don't want everything to be a welfare program. In fact, we don't want anything save welfare to be a welfare program. We like safety nets. That's why we don't just want Medicaid, we want guaranteed health insurance for everyone. That's why we don't want Social Security for the poor, we want it for the population. There's no great appeal in separating the poor from the rich through government programs -- it both demeans the poor and implicitly argues that government's only use is to care for those unable to do it themselves.
So if Democrats are dismissing ideas to turn a general safety net into an entitlement for the old and impoverished, don't act so surprised. Social Security, to us, is exactly what a government program should look like: a floor provided to and paid for by every American. Making it a welfare program is a step in the wrong direction.