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, February 02, 2005

Gene Lyons...God I love this guy!! (In a literary way, of course...)

Fully automatic banana cream pies locked,


by Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, February 2, 2005

I swear if I hear one more twentysomething in a power suit smugly
assure a TV interviewer how much better they can handle their
money than (snicker) Social Security, things could get ugly. Lately,
I’ve been fantasizing about storming a Starbucks armed with fully
automatic banana cream pies. "Eat this, yuppie scum!" Listening to
these Young Republicans is like hearing your 18-year-old tell you
he doesn’t need a seat belt because his reflexes are so superior
he couldn’t possibly have an accident. I recently saw some puppy
on CBS News boasting about his investment acumen. I couldn’t tell
if he was another ringer like last month’s CBS poster child for Social
Security "reform." They softpedaled the fact that Tad DeHaven,
who opined that he’d never see a dime due to Social Security’s
inevitable collapse, works for the National Taxpayers Union, a
tycoon-funded Washington think tank devoted to the premise
that government benefit checks ruin the character of the roughly
50 percent of old-timers with no other income. Mr. Confident
Investor was 27. I couldn’t help noticing that he looked like the
"before" half of a Hair Club for Men commercial.

Which has nothing to do with anything, except that I doubt premature
baldness was part of his life plan. But get rear-ended on the freeway
and end up paralyzed? Have a stroke or disabling heart attack? A child
with cerebral palsy? Work for a company that crashes, voiding his stock
options? Lose his 401 (k) in the next Enron or WorldCom fiasco? Not
him, no way. He’s a winner. Social Security’s for losers.

Look, punk, it’s an insurance policy, not an IRA. But there’s a reason
we’re seeing all these boy-in-the-street interviews, and it’s not
simply polls showing that high percentages of young people believe that
Social Security is doomed. (Some also show that only 26 percent of
Americans 18 to 34 read newspapers, which explains a lot.) Presenting
opinions instead of facts makes it easier to avoid mentioning that President
Bush’s campaign to "privatize" the most successful government program
in U.S. history is based entirely upon shameless falsehoods.

Whoops, I’ve used obsolete terminology. "Privatize" was last year’s
buzzword. Apparently because it worried voters that Republicans were
fixing to give Social Security a ride on a Wall Street roulette wheel,
the mandatory new phrase is "personal accounts." Bush recently scolded
Washington Post reporters for using the forbidden word, only to have
them show that he himself touted "privatization" just months ago.

To reiterate the tedious facts: According to the Congressional Budget
Office, the Social Security Trust Fund, which has accumulated huge
surpluses since the Reagan administration increased payroll taxes in
1983, contains enough money to fully fund benefits until 2052. Even
then, current revenues could pay 81 percent of projected benefits

Social Security’s own actuaries predict a somewhat earlier shortfall,
based upon extremely pessimistic assumptions about budget growth—about
which more in a moment.

What we have here is an accounting problem that Congress can solve with
a few nips and tucks of the kind it’s been making in Social Security
for the last 70 years. Instead, Bush throws around words like "bankrupt," "
flat broke" and "busted." He shamefully (and falsely) tells black
Americans that they’re getting screwed because they don’t live as long
as white folks. (Longevity stats reflect infant death rates more than
adult life expectancy. Besides, black women outlive white men by any

Bush’s acolytes throw around fake numbers like Social Security’s
supposed $10 trillion deficit. Know where they got that one? They
projected the system’s post-2052 shortfall to infinity. Literally. If
no actuarial changes are made and the United States endures until
the end of time, there’ll be one heckuva tax bill due.

More fun with numbers: See, when the Bushies predict shortfalls, they
use the Social Security Administration’s pessimistic 1.8 percent annual
economic growth projections (far below the 75-year average of 3.4
percent). Yet in calculating the wondrous benefits of
privatizooops!—personal accounts, they predict 6.5-7 percent stock
market earnings for all. You don’t need a Ph. D. in economics, like New
York Times columnist Paul Krugman, to realize that both things can’t be
true. Assume that kind of growth and predicted Social Security
shortfalls vanish. Bush dances around the issue, but GOP propagandists
such as Stephen Moore of the "Club for Growth" argue that the Social
Security Trust Fund is a myth. They say the special-issue Treasury
bonds in it—each backed by "the full faith and credit of the United States
"—are nothing but" worthless IOUs, "" accounting tricks, "etc. Here’s
what the U.S. Constitution says:" The validity of the public debt of
the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment
of pensions shall not be questioned. " Maybe Democrats should get
aggressive for a change. How about a congressional resolution forcing
Bush’s hand?

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


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