In One Eye

Sunday, May 15, 2005
 
I assume that the president's Saturday radio addresses are actually aired on the radio, but I have yet to find one broadcast anywhere. I always try to find out what he said, so that I can see what's going on in his own private Neverland. (Not to be confused with Michael Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch, but, given what Laura the Lump said her husband did to horses, perhaps a comparison isn't so off target.)

Anyway, he seems to have had three points to make yesterday. First,
Bush talked about Social Security on Saturday in his weekly radio address. The administration projects that the retirement program will run short of the money needed to pay all of its benefits by 2041 as it handles the coming wave of baby boom retirements. "The Social Security safety net has a hole in it for younger workers," said Bush, who is scheduled to travel to Milwaukee on Thursday to promote his plan. "For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need to make Social Security permanently solvent."

In the radio address, Bush called again for worker-owned retirement accounts funded with a portion of the Social Security tax. Under his proposal, workers who opened such accounts would have to give up a portion of their traditional Social Security benefits. But, Bush has said, the accounts would allow workers to own their retirement savings and, for some, to pass a portion to their heirs.

"Because this money will be saved and invested," he said Saturday, "workers will have the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return on their money than anything the current Social Security system can now give them."
Second,
Bush asked the Senate on Saturday to pass an energy bill that had been approved by the House.
Last,
he called on Congress to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

CAFTA, as the pact is known, would end most tariffs and import restrictions on trade among the United States and five Central American nations, plus the Dominican Republic. The agreement faces an uphill fight in the Senate, and is considered 30 or more votes short of passage in the House.
Given what Dear Leader said, I suppose I'm glad I didn't hear the talk live since it's just the same old same old.

The phraseology on Social Security is almost word for word what he said ("workers will have the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return on their money than anything the current Social Security system can now give them") at a number of invitation-only town metings he held this spring. The notion of a chance to earn a higher rate of return on one's investments is always appealing, but a guaranteed return as Social Security currently provides is obviously what most people prefer (and should prefer) regarding their retirement. The president, who, let's face it, has never had to work a day in his life, just can't see this.

Further, the idea of making Social Security "permanently solvent" is a real red flag. It should be clear that an administration that reduces civil rights in a "PATRIOT Act," that provides for clear cutting of woodlands in a "Healthy Forests Restoration Act," and eviscerates states' plans for education in a "No Child Left Behind Act" (to name just a few of the rhetorical gymnastics these clowns have performed) certainly can't be trusted to "reform" Social Security by making it "permanently solvent." It's obvious how the Bushies want to restore "solvency" to the Social Security program—and it's not by keeping it alive.

And CAFTA? Give me a break. This thing is dead on arrival, and everybody knows it. As was sadly found out with GATT and NAFTA, such trade agreements create environmental catastrophe, loss of American jobs, and sweatshop conditions in foreign countries. Of course, such trade agreements make American corporations and the executives who run them very very wealthy. It should be pretty obvious why Gorgeous George wants Congress to support this travesty.

Maybe the president discussed these latter two items on Saturday in order to conflate them. That is, he sees an opportunity to mend the safety net with a hole in it by having younger workers invest in those companies that will benefit from CAFTA. Naaah. Such synthesis is way beyond the capabilities of C+ George.