Tuesday, January 18, 2005

From a memo written by Bush's chief of strategic initiatives, Peter Wehner:
"I don't need to tell you that this will be one of the most important conservative undertakings of modern times. If we succeed in reforming Social Security, it will rank as one of the most significant conservative governing achievements ever. The scope and scale of this endeavor are hard to overestimate."

And from Josh Marshall:
"Let's not miss the big news in today's article in the Times about Dick Cheney. The vice president supports putting over 95% of the employee-side

Unfortunately, the authors construct the sentence in a somewhat murky fashion. But the key passage is this one: "Mr. Cheney is said by associates to favor creating investment accounts into which workers could deposit 4 percent to 6 percent of their earnings that are subject to the Social Security payroll tax."

In orther words, Cheney supports putting 4 to 6 percentage points of each individual's 6.2% contribution into a private investment account and taking it out of the Social Security system.

(Just for maximum clarity, that means about 97% of the employee's payroll tax contribution, which is 6.2% of their salary up to $90,000. And it's about 48% of the total Social Security money going into the program for the given individual since the employer also kicks in another 6.2%.)

So, in other words, the initial 'partial' phase of the Social Security phase-out, turns about to be 50% phase-out. And the only money going into Social Security comes from the employer. How long do you figure that lasts?
-- Josh Marshall

A copy of the article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/18/politics18cheney.html?oref=login&oref=login&pagewanted=all&position=

The Wehner memo quote above goes on to state that the initiative is to try and stabilize Social Security and ensure its solvency into the future. Yet if you take into account Vice President Cheney's statement, it think it is entire clear that the true motivation is to eliminate Social Security as it is established today.

The language the administration uses when talking about the SS system is designed to frighten and confuse the average person. Even people who have experience in this area have trouble sorting out the bad from the good. Terms such as "unfunded liability", "trust fund" and "bankruptcy" are all designed to make it sound like the person is knowledgeable about the subject while they attempt to scare the listener into going along with their position.

Few people seem to want to acknowledge the ideological divide between the two sides. This is not a fiscal argument, as the administration and its spokespersons contend, but an ideological argument.

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