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Reform Social Security? No, thank you

Our contention is that George Bush makes a mess out of just about anything he gets involved in: college, National Guard service, his professional baseball team, oil drilling companies, Texas environment, the national economy (astronomical record deficits), the disastrous war in Iraq, with more than 100,000 people killed so far and still counting.
Now he wants to make a mess out of Social Security through ‘privatization.’
We don’t really understand why, but suddenly at the beginning of his second term Bush is warning the public, especially the young and the old, that Social Security is in ‘crisis’ and will soon be bankrupt. Practically any Social Security expert will tell you that’s simply not true.
Bush has resorted to an old Republican trick: the scare tactic. It works almost every time with a gullible electorate that tends toward conservatism. Bush is trying to scare people, just as he, Vice President Cheney and CIA Director George Tenet did with the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ ruse before their inner circle in the White House decided to forget about terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and invade oil-rich Iraq.
Bush has been saying that Social Security, the bedrock social safety net/insurance program that was created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the depths of the Depression, is going broke, headed for bankruptcy. Drastic action is necessary. A program that has worked for 70 years (and been a bulwark of the Democrat Party ever since) has to be dismantled.
Are you scared yet?
What’s scarey is that Bush wants to take a portion of Social Security taxes and let individuals invest it in private accounts in the stock market. Time magazine says he’s been thinking about this for years.
Try to imagine millions of Americans who know nothing about the stock market entrusting their hard-earned savings to the kind of Big Money people who support George Bush. (For some reason, Enron chairman Ken Lay and those good folks at WorldCom keep coming to mind.) Imagine many Wall Street investors getting rich during bull markets and all the Joe Blows going broke during bear markets. Imagine all the millions of dollars going into private investments when it should be going into Social Security to provide the retirement funds and insurance that millions of people want and depend on in old age.
You have to admit: The sheer transparency, the sheer audaciousness of the Bush privatization plan is breath-taking, even though several other countries who have tried it have been unsuccessful.
In an article called ‘Myths and Truths about Social Security’ in the March-April AARP magazine, Karen Reyes says this about the myth that Social Security is broke: ‘Not by a long shot. In fact, Social Security is in better shape today than at any other time since it was enacted in 1935.’ Since ‘judicious adjustments’ were made in 1983 by a Ronald Reagan commission headed by Alan Greenspan, ‘trust fund reserves have gone from nearly zero to $1.6 trillion.’
Reyes says that the system will be able to meet its obligations until 2042. In the meantime, some more ‘judicious adjustments’ will have to be made in the next few years, and there are many options, but they are not major and they don’t involve investing people’s tax money in risky private accounts with no guarantees for even breaking even.
Peter R. Orszag, a senior fellow in economics at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., says, ‘Dismantling the whole system would be like buying a new car because the one you have has a flat tire.’
Just getting ready to try a privatization plan would cost the government $2 to $3 trillion to borrow enough money to create personal accounts, and the country is already up to its ears in debt. But, strangely, Bush is a Republican who has never worried about big debt. (Someone else can pay for it later.)
Economist Paul Krugman said the Bush plan amounts to ‘borrow, speculate and hope.’
Krugman says, ‘Do you believe that we should replace America’s most successful government program with a system in which workers engage in speculation that no financial adviser would recommend? Do you believe that we should do this even though it will do nothing to improve the program’s finances? If so, Geroge Bush has a deal for you.’

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