Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Chimp_Nazis About To Trash Social Security

Social Security alarm just another flimflam
by Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Here we go again. Yet another stage-managed "crisis" has arisen
requiring the heroic intervention of George W. Bush, the action-figure
president. This time, it’s Social Security, the most successful
government program in U.S. history, that has been singled out for the
now-familiar Bush treatment. According to The Washington Post, Bush
hopes to get his way "by essentially replicating the formula he used to
reshape foreign policy in the first [term]. This includes creating a
small, loyal and trustworthy team to press for broad changes largely
dictated by the White House." In short, a team of ideologues and
yes-men. First comes a propaganda barrage, a rhetorical shock-and-awe
campaign to convince the American public of something that’s manifestly
untrue: that Social Security faces a funding crisis threatening its
very existence.

In his weekly radio address, Bush argued that "while benefits for
today’s seniors are secure, the system is headed towards bankruptcy
down the road. If we do not act soon, Social Security will not be there for
our children and grandchildren."

Bankruptcy, the man said. Soon, he added.

By now, anybody who believes anything this president says about money
shouldn’t be allowed a bank account without an adult co-signer. The
administration has a matchless track record of budgetary flimflams.
Remember when White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey was forced
to walk the plank in 2002 for saying the Iraq war would cost $200
billion? Remember the economist at Health and Human Services threatened
with firing if he revealed that actual cost estimates for Bush’s
Medicare drug benefit were $100 billion higher than the White House
told Congress?

Well, the Social Security "crisis" is another one of those. Except
that, unlike the federal budget, which is pretty abstract to most people,
Social Security is something the vast majority have literally bet their
lives on. Surely even Bush wouldn’t mislead them about that?

Here’s what the president told a joint session of Congress back on Feb.
27, 2001, when he was lobbying for the first round of "Save the
Millionaires" tax cuts: "To make sure the retirement savings of
America’s seniors are not diverted to any other program, my budget
protects all $2.6 trillion of the Social Security surplus for Social
Security and Social Security alone."

Acolytes are now fanning out from all the tycoon-funded GOP "think
tanks" in Washington amplifying Bush’s scare talk: Social Security,
they say, is a "pay as you go" system where today’s workers fund today’s
retirees through payroll taxes. The insurmountable problem is supposed
to be that an aging population is running short of workers to carry the

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. C., recently parroted the theme to CNN’s Lou
Dobbs. "Social Security is going bankrupt," he said. "It’s coming apart
at the seams. When I was born in 1955, there were 16 workers for every
retiree. In about 15 years, there will be two workers for every
retiree. Between 2011 and 2030, there will be a 65 percent increase in

retirees and 8 percent increase in the work force. We’re short of money to
pay the benefits."

But Social Security quit being a "pay as you go" program in 1983, when
the Reagan administration, heeding a commission headed by current
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, sharply raised payroll taxes
in anticipation of impending demographic changes. Fact is, the Baby
Boomers, a. k. a. the fabled "Woodstock generation," have already
funded their own retirement. The hay is in the barn.

Indeed, the Social Security surplus continues to accumulate and will
for another decade. According to a report by the non-partisan Congressional
Budget Office, Social Security will be selffunding at least until 2052,
when projected benefits would begin to exceed revenue by a mere 19
percent—more an easily managed actuarial problem than a crisis.

A privately run insurance company with the same profile would be
considered flush with assets.

So what’s the problem? Remember in 2001 when Bush argued that
Clinton era budget surpluses belonged "to the American taxpayers—not to the
government—and it should be returned to the people in the form of a tax
cut"? He was wrong on both counts, economist Allen W. Smith writes in
his pungent book," The Looting of Social Security": "The money did not
belong to the government or the general public. It belonged to the
Social Security trust fund and to the hard-working Americans whose
payroll tax contributions created the Social Security surplus." But
now, see, GOP thinkers argue that the surplus is purely theoretical, an
"accounting trick," some say; government IOUs that needn’t be paid. If
so, then salaried workers have been the pigeons in a gigantic
money-laundering scam since 1983, remitting payroll taxes that the Bush
administration has diverted to fund rebates to his wealthiest
supporters. Understand, too, that his proposed "reforms" begin with
sheer make-believe.

• Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient
of the National Magazine Award.

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