Just As I Thought


I really, really don’t understand what kind of math classes the Bush gang took. They just make the strangest fiscal decisions. For example, the biggest blunder: when they inherited the nation’s largest budget surplus ever, did they earmark those funds for the soon to be overburdened Social Security trust fund? Nope. They sent us all $300 checks; then cut taxes on the richest Americans. Then, they decided to go to war, and plunged our treasury into the biggest deficit in our history.
But that’s okay, because it will affect some other president. Now they’re finally getting around to looking at Social Security, and their brilliant plan is to change the fundamental way it works… by taking money OUT of the system. In order to get this done, they’re ramping up an unprecedented campaign, intending to steamroll the American people the same way they did in the election.

President Bush’s political allies are raising millions of dollars for an election-style campaign to promote private Social Security accounts, as Democrats and Republicans prepare for what they predict will be the most expensive and extensive public policy debate since the 1993 fight over the Clinton administration’s failed health care plan.

With Bush planning to unveil the details of his Social Security plan this month, several GOP groups close to the White House are asking the same donors who helped reelect Bush to fund an extensive campaign to convince Americans — and skeptical lawmakers — that Social Security is in crisis and that private accounts are the only cure.

… Republicans are expediting their fundraising plans after learning that AARP, the influential seniors group that supported Bush’s Medicare program but opposes his Social Security designs, will spend $5 million in the first two weeks of this month attacking the president’s plan to allow younger workers to invest part of their Social Security contributions in the stock market. AARP plans to run full-page ads in 50 large newspapers to coincide with the return of Congress next week. In one ad, a couple in their forties says, “If we feel like gambling, we’ll play the slots.”

AARP will be joined by a large number of Democratic groups, including the AFL-CIO, the NAACP and the National Organization for Women. They are coordinating their work with Democratic congressional leaders, all of whom oppose the private investment accounts.

Both sides say the fight could eventually become the most expensive lobbying campaign Washington has witnessed because the stakes are so high for businesses and taxpayers and the issue is so complex for most Americans.

… The Republican groups plan to provide the financial muscle, mostly for ads. According to several officials, the campaign will focus on several issues that critics say are debatable: that the retirement system is in crisis, that private accounts are a wise solution and even smarter investment, and that Bush has a mandate from voters to fix Social Security because he talked about it during the 2004 campaign. The groups also plan to argue that it is prudent to borrow money today to cover the transitional costs and avert what they call a $10.4 trillion unfunded liability in the future. That number represents the shortfall calculated over the infinite life of the program.

There’s that crap about a mandate again. What a load.
Anyway, I fail to see how this plan will fix Social Security. Today’s workers are paying for today’s retirees. If I am paying into a private account — one based on the stock market, which we all know is, well, uncertain — how are today’s retirees going to be paid? In fact, it’s not Social Security at all. It’s just the same kind of retirement account I already have that I pay into every month. Why not just do away with Social Security completely and make retirement accounts mandatory?
I just can’t wrap my mind around this whole thing, but that’s generally the case when the Bush administration makes fiscal policy.


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