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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Sunday, July 17, 2005


I have posted on this topic before, but it has been awhile, and I think it is is time to revisit Social Security. So let's get at it.

Michael D. Tanner of Cato Institute asks:

"Do you know where your Social Security taxes are? Some of them went to pay for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The same monies helped the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines pay for the development of exhibits for the World Food Prize. And we should all be happy that some of our Social Security surplus funded a study of mariachi music for the Clark County (Nevada) School District."

We should all know by now (that is if you have an IQ equal or greater than that of a pine cone) Social Security is in need of long term, comprehensive reform if we are going to be able to fix the many problems it faces. Using an analogy, Mr. Tanner points out that "before a doctor operates on a patient, the first step is to stop the bleeding". And the same must be done with Social Security - stop the bleeding. Therefore, " the first step toward Social Security reform should be to stop Congress from spending Social Security money on anything except workers' retirement."

The way Social Security is set up, workers don't own their Social Security funds. This is problematic because workers don't own their money. Hence, Congress treats the money as if it is their money, and feel free to spend it on whatever they decide. "And spend it they do, on everything from the war in Iraq to the International Fertilizer Development Center" he notes. "In return, the Social Security Trust Fund is given a bond, essentially an IOU, which will eventually have to be repaid out of future taxes."

"It's the ultimate insult" he says, adding, "Congress spends our Social Security taxes then expects us to pay more taxes to repay its borrowing. To date, Congress has borrowed and spent more than $1.7 trillion of Social Security taxes. This year it will borrow another $60 billion."

Put another way by Dr. Jack Wheeler, "In 2004, Social Security payroll taxes brought in $151.5 billion more than the total of Social Security benefits paid out to recipients. This surplus was not set aside, invested, deposited, or in any way kept within the Social Security system. It was spent, spent by the federal government on general government expenses. Every dime. In its place are $151.5 billion of IOU’s issued by the Treasury Department. These T-bond IOU’s are not an asset, they are debt, a liability. A liability on which the government must pay compound interest."

As Greenspan noted, the 2004 federal deficit was officially $412.5 billion – and “would have been $564 billion,” if Social Security revenue hadn't been included in the budget.

Mr. Tanner points out that this has been going on for some time now ... for more than 20 years. This has taken place under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Both parties have rejected any attempt to keep their hands out of the cookie jar. Some members, as a matter of fact, seem to be proud of what they are doing and Mr Tanner cites a quote from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi where she says, "There's nothing wrong with Social Security lending money with the prospect of returning it … There is a surplus in Social Security, and under the law Social Security can lend that money to the government for other purposes."

This attitude by our politicians must change. And since they cannot be trusted with our retirement money, the only real way to keep them from spending our Social Security taxes "is to get that money out of Washington".

"Now, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Sam Johnson (R-Tex.), and others have proposed legislation that would rebate Social Security surpluses to workers in the form of contributions to personal accounts. The money would belong to the worker, in an account with his or her name on it."

The “lockbox” proposed by Al Gore in 2000, that Democrats claim to want, that even Greenspan is demanding, would be owned and operated by the government. The Democrat lockbox is one where the government still keeps the surplus. The only difference is that the money is actually put aside somewhere, unspecified, and not folded into general tax revenue and spent.

The DeMint-Ryan-Johnson proposal would represent a true "lockbox," devoting that money solely to the worker's retirement. No politician could touch it. What to watch for now is the Republican Real Lockbox, which would return the surplus to taxpayers. It will work like this.

"Whatever percentage of the total Social Security receipts for a given year exceeds total payments, that percentage of payroll taxes paid by an individual taxpayer is returned to him or her in the form of a check. The check is marked: 'For deposit into a Social Security Roth IRA account only.' Thus the return of the surplus to taxpayers is not a refund, it is a deposit." It should be noted that people would be allowed to return the check and have it credited to their traditional Social Security account.

The plan would have other benefits as well. Because workers would own the funds in their accounts, when they die they could pass money on to loved ones. And, without Social Security surpluses to hide behind, Congress would have to face up to the choices of running higher deficits, raising taxes, or, hopefully, spending less.

"For sixty years, the Federales have stolen trillions of dollars from Social Security and spent it on non-Social Security expenditures, for the purpose of buying votes and expanding government. The Real Lockbox stops the stealing, creates Social Security solvency, and gives retirees a dependable and safe retirement fund of their own."

And now Dr. Jack Wheeler writes in his TTP Intelligence Bulletin that the REAL LOCKBOX [is] BECOMING REALITY.

"The real fix of Social Security being devised by Republicans in Congress, superior to President Bush’s and designed to drive Democrats up a defensive tree." It "is fast becoming legislative reality."

"Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has introduced a bill – S.1302 – officially entitled The Stop the Raid on Social Security Act of 2005. He has 10 initial co-sponsors: Rick Santorum (R-PA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Sununu (R-NH), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Trent Lott (R-MS) and Sam Brownback (R-KS). The list will grow."

"To read the bill, go to the Library of Congress’ Thomas website (named after Thomas Jefferson) and enter the bill number (S.1302) into the Search Bill box. This brings up the bill as a series of links to the bill’s sections. So click on “Printer Friendly Display,” and up will come the full text."

"You can also read the text of Senator DeMint’s press conference , where he and his co-sponsors called on Congress to 'stop the raid and start saving the surplus' in personal accounts legally owned by workers and not the government."

"These Senators will now be putting serious pressure on President Bush to exchange his proposal with theirs, which ends all talk of cutting benefits, terminates Congress’ secret slush fund (it just spends the Social Security surplus on government boondoggles – never a dime of it is saved), invests the surplus payroll taxes into private accounts (what objection can AARP have to that?), and cleans the Democrats’ clock on the issue."

"DeMint is confident he can get GW on board."


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