Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Here he goes again...

The passage below in italics is from a story I found on Yahoo. In it, President Bush once agin distorted the view of Social Security.

"A lot of people in America think there's a trust," Bush told a forum here, shortly after he stopped off at the Bureau of Public Debt, the agency that keeps records on the nation's debt.
"But that's not the way it works," he said. "There is no trust fund -- just IOUs."

Full story here: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050405/pl_nm/retirement_bush_dc&e=5

Technically, Bush is correct, but strangely enough we never seem to hear him say this whenever he asks for funding to do something like attack another nation. Sure, there is a theoretical amount of money in the defense portion of the budget, but you can just as easily argue that there is a defense budget crisis because there is no defense trust fund -- just IOUs. And since the Congressional Budget Office has already said that the program can be fully funded if left as it is until 2042 (and be able to pay 80% of promised benefits until 2052), the other part of Bush's alarmist argument, that the program will be "flat broke" by 2018, is yet another bit of nonsense that goes uncontested by the "liberal media".

Bush has, at best, misstated the case for "overhauling" Social Security. At worst, he has told nothing but bald-faced lies. People seem to think, because Bush has said this numerous times, that a portion of the payroll tax will be set aside for workers to put into personal/private accounts. This is dead wrong. Even Vice President Dick Cheney says that simply isn't so. Cheney says that it is a portion of the Social Security piece of the payroll tax that will be set aside -- a different matter entirely.

What is scary is that nobody except Paul Krugman of the New York Times seems willing to call the President on these misstatements. Krugman, an economist, has written several articles that show why Bush's evidence is incorrect, and offers sane solutions that Bush would never consider since they generally involve either raising the tax rates or raising the ceiling on high-end earners who can be taxed from $90,000 a year to $200,000 a year.

That is the other portion of this discussion that gets lost. In Campaign 2000, Bush said he had a plan to fix Social Security, but a mere five years later we still only have a tiny glimpse of what this plan entails. Meanwhile, mainstream media pundits tripped over themselves to proclaim the man as a bold visionary. In that campaign, political analysts wanted to pretend Al Gore was a nitpicking nerd because he was actually able to demonstrate that Bush's own projections for a budget filled with the tax cuts he wanted would cause a recession. These analysts didn't like the way Gore sighed when Bush told his whoppers about this subject during the debates. And these same clowns likewise pretended that it was okay that Bush was obviously not even close to being the smartest guy in the room, but that that too was somehow okay because of his deep "convictions".

Those convictions have given us record budget deficits. The Dow is still about 1,000 points down from where it was when Bill Clinton left office. There are over two million people still looking for jobs as a result of this man's economic vision. On that record alone, nobody should believe a single word he says about Social Security (or, for that matter, anything else).

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