The "Symbolic" Pledge on Social Security
August 30, 2001
While browsing the Internet for more whoppers - finding a
worthy whopper can be hard, because a lot are just stupidities,
not things worth writing about - I found the New York Times
saying that White House aides - unidentified, of course -
had been claiming that the Social Security pledge was a symbolic
pledge, and that, quite simply, "Why honor a symbolic pledge
when we have real, hard needs at Defense?"
Why indeed. Also, in a related story, the Virginia governor
and nominal RNC chairman, Jim Gilmore, announced an ad campaign
to demonstrate that the Democrats were launching unwarranted
partisan attacks and were themselves the real threat to the
budget with their risky spending schemes on wasteful government
All right, let's take #2 first, and work our way back
First of all, who uses the term "risky spending scheme?"
Why, that's an Al Gore line if I ever heard one. That's quite
a feat, Al: Your lines are now being used by the Republican
national chairman to announce an anti-Democrat ad campaign!
Come on, be proud.
Side note: Gilmore is only the nominal head. Karl Rove is
the real head. Bob Novak said so. Apparently Gilmore, like
old tales of a foolish British prince who thought that his
title of "Commander in Chief of the British Navy" or something
like that actually meant that he could RUN the thing, tried
to take charge of the RNC like his title suggested. He was
brutally slapped down and informed that Karl Rove was in charge.
End of story.
Second of all, let's get this straight. Democrats want to
launch risky spending schemes on wasteful government programs,
so Republicans are going to thwart this evil plot by sending
the money to an agency that deserves the money, a department
that will use the money much better than other departments
They're going to send it to the Pentagon.
Have we gone mad!? The Pentagon doesn't even know how much
money it has year to year! Even their auditors fail audits!
(Those are factual statements, by the way.) They haven't had
a working accounting system in place there since at least
the Reagan administration! What does Gilmore think the Pentagon
I'm just pointing out that saying you're going to take money
away from wasteful programs (like what? Health care? Education?
Roads? Oh, I forgot, roads are a sacred cow) and then give
the money to the Pentagon, which makes even HUD blush with
its brazen waste and fraud. Remember the case of the credit
cards to buy equipment that ended up being used to pay for
5-star hotels and gourmet restaurants, and no-one was ever
called to account? Because to save paperwork, the Pentagon
skimped on controls to make sure the money wasn't wasted?
Forget about it. That's NOTHING compared to what the Pentagon
I mean, let's make one point here, and one that should be
remembered. You can find people at Lockheed-Martin or other
defense giants (not that there's many anymore due to merger
mania) who will tell you flat out the truth: They're not in
it for patriotism. They're in it to bilk the taxpayer, and
to hell with whether their stuff actually works or not. All
their equipment needs to do is to fool the government's people
so that Congress approves the budget. Beyond that, if it works,
great. If not, who cares? If Russia goes full nuclear they're
all dead anyway. NMD will never be 100% effective, so their
motivation for that is, of course, also simply to suck money
from the budget, and if it never works in the real world,
big deal. Anyone who thinks that military procurement is the
real world is really, really kidding himself.
So this is what the "symbolic" promise is being broken over?
OK, let's present some facts, from http://www.georgebush.com/issues/socialsecurity.html
Governor Bush's Reform Proposal
Governor Bush will build a bipartisan consensus to
save Social Security based on the following principles: Absolutely
no change in existing benefits for retirees or near-retirees.
The Social Security surplus must be locked away only
for Social Security. Social Security payroll taxes must not
The government itself must not invest Social Security
funds in the market.
Modernization must preserve the disability and survivors
Modernization must include individually controlled,
voluntary personal retirement accounts, which will augment
the Social Security safety net. These accounts will earn higher
rates of return, have parameters of safety and soundness,
and help workers build wealth that can be passed on to their
Yeah, well, I'm not buying it. Even the part about the government
not investing SS funds in the market is just not credible.
Congress recently bailed out a railway worker retirement fund
with a provision for the federal government investing the
money into the market, and because of congressional politics,
Bush did not veto it. (Again, I'm picking on Bob Novak a little,
but the point is, this was unprecedented. Now there really
is a precedent for the government investing funds itself.
This is scary stuff.)
The point is this. Bush was lying when he made the pledge
- he knew damned well that Social Security's surplus does
not go towards Social Security. It either goes to additional
spending (i.e. "wasteful programs" like the Department
of Defense) or, in a recent and benign twist, it went to help
pay off the national debt. In no way is this money locked
for Social Security itself, unless - and here's the kicker
- counting taking the surplus money and lending it to the
federal government to be "locking it away." Well not
in my book.
For anyone who missed my very first Whopper, this is a lesson
you should take to heart. Those Treasury bonds held by the
Social Security Administration? The Full Faith And Credit
of the American Government is none other than YOU. To repay
Social Security, you will be taxed more, and squeezed more,
because your current President is breaking his pledge.
Yes, the pledge was symbolic; we know that, because Bush
obviously didn't mean what he said. However, breaking it will
do harm to the American public that is all too real.