Skip to comments.Looting the lockbox no way for president to sell 'reform' (AFL-CIO BARF ALERT)
Posted on 06/02/2005 5:21:29 PM PDT by Chi-townChief
For months now, President Bush has been touring the country, trying to sell voters on privatizing Social Security. Support weakens the more he travels and "explains" his plan. A recent stop was Milwaukee, where a statewide poll showed support has plummeted to 28 percent. Another month on tour and even he will be against it.
Cutting benefits and shifting money to Wall Street brokers is not only a bad idea; it does nothing to solve Social Security's funding difficulties. Private retirement accounts would siphon money away from Social Security and worsen the problem.
Even red-state Republicans wash their hands of it. U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., denounced private accounts, saying "I want the benefits to be assured for our senior citizens so they're not jerked around."
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., said she couldn't support any plan that put workers' Social Security taxes into risky investments. "We ought to get the budget back in balance and restrain spending money like drunken sailors." Emerson said.
Her comment touched the core of the real problem. As economist Robert McIntyre put it, "The real crisis is that the rest of the government stole the Social Security Trust Fund, spent it, and because of Bush's tax cuts, won't be able to pay it back."
We were warned this might happen.
Many of us recall that during the 2000 presidential debates, candidate Bush told how he would "privatize" Social Security, while Al Gore promised a "lockbox" to keep it safe. Well, Bush won the election and proceeded to loot the lockbox, creating the debacle we now face over future Social Security financing.
During his road show, the president even showed us where the lockbox is keptin a vault in the Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg, W. Va. Smiling broadly, he posed for photos in front of a filing cabinet crammed with IOUs. He said they were worthless, even though they represent bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
Seems to me that for the president of the United States to tell us that Treasury bonds are no good is a poor way to inspire confidence.
Many suspect his "privatizing" scheme aims to kill Social Security, not "save" it. Since taking office, the Bush administration has led an all-out assault against the safety net of social programs critical to the lives of ordinary people. Because of that, American families face more risks and greater insecurities than we've known for a long time.
This is a contrived "crisis," a blatant attempt to do away with one of the New Deal's extraordinary contributions to a more just and caring society. For a real crisis, the president and the GOP-controlled Congress should be taking on our broken health care system, where 5,000 people every day lose their health insurance, and budget cuts force states to restrict Medicare coverage.
It is clear Democrats in Congress will never accept a Bush plan to create private retirement accounts. They want to strengthen Social Security, but for a bipartisan effort, privatization must be off the table.
Now that the administration has opened the door to funding alternatives, some good ideas are springing up that I really like.
For instance, U.S. Rep Robert Wexler, D-Fla., has introduced a bill in the House that would "close the millionaire's tax loophole" by scrapping the $90,000 cap. That would virtually solve the problem for the next 75 years. Presently, someone with a $1 million salary pays the same as someone earning $90,000. (These are the same people who benefited most from the Bush tax cuts). Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., has indicated he could support the idea, and a Gallup Poll found it to be by far the most popular solution to the system's financing problems.
While we're thinking creatively, I like another notion that has been proposed: To make the Social Security tax more progressive, exempt the first $20,000 in earnings. Social Security doesn't need any drastic change. Just take off the $90,000 cap and let America's richest people pay their fair share.
The question to ask: Who had the clearer vision of the needs and concerns of ordinary Americans FDR from the confines of his wheelchair 70 years ago when he created Social Security and embraced a philosophy of government that offers a helping hand to those who need it? Or George W. Bush and his "ownership society," where everyone is on his own?
Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in our nation's history. For millions of retired Americans, it is the only source of income. That's why it is essential we preserve and strengthen it for our seniors, for our children and for every generation to come.
And yes, bring back that "lockbox."
John R. Durso is president of Local 338 of the RWDSU/UFCW, AFL-CIO, which represents more than 18,000 supermarket, dairy and health care workers in New York. It is an affiliate of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the 1.4 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union, AFL-CIO.
" Lockbox?" I think Social Security is more a "Crockbox"!
How can you loot what's been empty for YEARS?
Well .. you can't LOOT something that doesn't exist.
If unions weren't so flush with forced union dues they would be as obsolete as the pony express.
We need to contact our reps to pass the National Right to Work Act and hasten the demise of the socialists in this nation:
Another reassurance that we have NOTHING to fear from the rats, NOTHING!
I think the lock box is a great idea, and I plan to start my own this month.
What I'm going to do is borrow from myself every nickle I make, and spend it -- but not before writing an IOU to myself each time I make a loan to myself.
I'm going to put the IOUs in a special lockbox. Then, when it comes time to pay my mortgage and other bills, all I have to do is take out some of the IOUs and endorse them over to the bank and other creditors.
True, it reduces the number of IOUs in the lockbox, but that's not a problem, because the next month I'll do the same thing. So there will always be IOUs in the lockbox.
Adam Smith said: "What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom."
The corollary must also be true. So I figure that whatever Congress is doing can scarce be folly in the conduct of every private family.
"While we're thinking creatively, I like another notion that has been proposed: To make the Social Security tax more progressive, exempt the first $20,000 in earnings. Social Security doesn't need any drastic change. Just take off the $90,000 cap and let America's richest people pay their fair share."
This is being creative?? 'Pay their fair share' is a phrase used by dems to steal our money since the caveman. Wouldn't this just push SS further into the welfare world? Democrats in congress are holding back from suggesting their own fix(which would be the above) so that no-one will get mad at them right now. It's the John Kerry campaign plan. Republicans should accuse democrats of planning to raise taxes.
Lessee if I have this right ....
According to this paragraph, prior to the election, SS was in neither a privatized state nor in a lockbox.
Both candidates wanted to do, in the future, if elected, something with/to SS.
Algore slipped it in a lockbox without anyone noticing, Geaorge Bush found the key and looted (secretly, mind you ... ) all the money that was there and now SS is broke.
Private retirement accounts would allow younger people to benefit from the long-term growth of our economy, which far exceeds inflation. I would challenge anyone to find a 40 year employment period in our nations history when a modern portfolio of investments would not mean more money at retirement for the worker and less strain on Social Security. Since a positive benefit is the only reasonable outcome, the true risk is that Congress would refuse this initiative to help solve the problem.
The idea that an extra $1 trillion must be borrowed to fund the accounts is nonsense. It is the same borrowed amount whether or not this positive step is taken to help brake the spiral of failure in which trillions of additional dollars would need to be borrowed.
I do not to understand why the Congress should not allow all people to build a financial future for their families. The markets operate with such resiliency and efficiency, and the methods for managing resources are so effective, that John D. Rockefeller would envy the opportunities available to todays high school graduates. I just advised a young married couple with minimum wage jobs on how to start Roth IRAs, and how to follow a get rich slowly plan leaving ample room for other financial decisions. But what do I know? I am only an accountant with an M.B.A. in finance who retired three years age at 55, and whos middle class family has lived well on one income.
Payments into Social Security have exceeded payments out by several hundred billion a year since the mid 1980's. Where did this money go?
Somebody correct me if I am wrong but wasn't Social
Security funding in a lock box until the LBJ admin-
istration and their Congressional cronies shifted it
in order to help pay for the "War on Poverty"? And,
didn't the Clinton administration and their cronies
slap a nice little tax on SS benefits?
BTW, did somebody win the "War on Poverty" or did
they just change the name to the "War on Property"?
The democrats raided it - and in it's place they put IOU's to be paid off ??? by ???
You see .. the SS money used to be kept in a separate account .. but the dems changed all that and borrowed the money - not really making any plan on how they intended to pay it back. Now that they have a scapegoat in the WH they are whining and moaning about the debt. But .. the dems caused it .. and now they will try to blame it on Bush .. which is pretty much their typical style.
The other problem is that years ago 16 workers supported one retiree .. now it only 3 people support each retiree. Pretty soon we will be taking in a lot less than we're putting out. And .. I don't know where you got your stats that we have "exceeded several hundred billion a year since the mid 1980's" - I don't believe that's a correct number.
You're correct. Since 1985 the cumulative Social Security surplus has been about $1.8 trillion, which only averages out to $90 billion a year.
Algore is still out there attired in his finest irrelevancy.
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