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Old 01-16-2005, 03:57 PM   #1
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Social Security?

Mofo conservatives = dismantle the greatest wealth equalizer in history/
http://www.democracynow.org/article..../01/14/1519241



Leaked GOP Memo: Privatizing Social Security Would Be "One of the Most Significant Conservative Governing Achievements Ever"

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Vice President Dick Cheney gives a major address calling for radical overhaul of social security. We speak with Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future and a leader of a coalition to protect social security. [includes rush transcript]
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Last week, an internal White House memo titled "Some Thoughts on Social Security," was leaked to the press. The memo was written by Peter Wehner, an aide Karl Rove in the Office of Strategic Initiatives. In it, Wehner writes "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." The memo goes on to outline the strategies and talking points necessary to reform Social Security.
One week after the Jan. 3rd memo, the White House has kicked off an election-style campaign to promote President Bush's Social Security reform plan. At a White House forum billed as a "conversation on Social Security", Bush painted a dire picture of the current system, warning younger workers that Social Security "will be flat bust, bankrupt, unless the United States Congress has got the willingness to act right now."

In an interview with USA Today, Bush said members of Congress who don't confront Social Security's problems may pay a price. He said "If people shy away from working together to solve the problem, there will be a political consequence."

Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday spoke before an audience of college students and administrators at The Catholic University of America. He spoke about the so-called "coming crisis" of Social Security and argued for the privatization of parts the system. This is an excerpt of what he had to say.

Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking at Catholic University

Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future and a leader of a coalition to protect social security.

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JUAN GONZALEZ: Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke before an audience of college students and administrators at the Catholic University of America yesterday. He spoke about the so-called, quote, “Coming crisis of Social Security,” and urged for the privatization of the system. This is an excerpt of what the Vice President had to say:

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: The time has come for an honest, straightforward and realistic discussion about the future of the Social Security system. The system has been in steady service, uninterrupted for nearly 70 years. It has fulfilled the promise announced by President Franklin Roosevelt, providing vital income to millions of seniors and assuring generations of working people their retirement years would have some decent measure of security. For today’s generation of senior citizens, the system is strong and fiscally sound. But younger workers are understandably concerned about whether social security will be around for them when they need it. The problem is simple to state -- with an aging population and steadily falling ratio of workers to retirees, the system is on a course to eventual bankruptcy. Social Security was designed in 1935 for a different world than the one we live in today. It is a pay as you go system, in which the benefits that go to current retirees come directly from the payroll taxes of current workers. It is also worth noting that in 1935, the average life expectancy in America was about 60 years. Meaning that many people would not live long enough to become eligible for retirement benefits. So, when the program was still new in the 1940's, there were 41 workers paying into the system for every retiree drawing benefits. Over time, as more and more retirees entered the system and stayed in the system for a longer period, the number of workers per beneficiary continued to decline. By the 1950's, about 16 workers paid in for every person drawing out. Today, it's about three workers for each beneficiary, and by the time our youngest workers, those just entering the workforce today, turn 65, the ratio will be down to two workers for each beneficiary. At present, Social Security operates with a substantial cash surplus, but very soon, the greatest test of the Social Security system will be upon us. The first members of the baby boom generation are reaching age 60, and they look forward to long, active and healthy lives. In just a few years, their generation will begin retiring and collecting benefits and the surpluses will begin to decline. By 2018, Social Security will begin paying out more than it receives in payroll taxes. From then on the shortfalls will grow larger every year. Until 2042, when the Social Security trustees estimate the system will reach fiscal collapse. By that point, with the projected shortfall in the trillions of dollars, the government would have no option other than to suddenly and dramatically reduce benefit payments by over 25%, or to impose a massive, economically ruinous tax increase on all American workers.

AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Dick Cheney speaking at Catholic University yesterday in Washington, D.C. We are joined in our Washington studio by Roger Hickey, Co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, a leader of a coalition to protect Social Security. Welcome to Democracy Now!

ROGER HICKEY: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you respond to what the Vice President laid out?

ROGER HICKEY: Well, first, it should be noted that there were demonstrators who met him at Catholic University, and remained outside throughout the speech. President Cheney -- Vice President Cheney is doing exactly what President Bush and the rest of his campaign have been doing since the election. They have been trying to scare the American people into thinking that there's some kind of a crisis facing Social Security. It's very, very parallel to the scare tactics they used around weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You will see a steady drumbeat from here through the summer of representatives from the administration trying to convince us that somehow, as Cheney said, Social Security faces a fiscal collapse. Well, that is just bald-faced lies. It is designed to sell people on a program that will eventually dismantle Social Security, and the response that we have to say is, look, there are plenty of people who will be paying into the Social Security system in 2050 and 2060. In the worst case scenario, if we did nothing to the Social Security system, we might have to reduce benefits by 20%, 25% in 2052. Until then, we can pay full benefits. Social Security may be facing a challenge in the future, sometime after the baby boomers retire, because we have this trust fund that we have created, but nowhere near a fiscal collapse, and nothing like the time frame that the administration is talking about.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Roger Hickey, I'd like to ask you, first of all this concept of Social Security going bankrupt, since it is a government guaranteed system, and it's a pay as you go system, it's -- it doesn't seem to be more likely than for instance the Defense Department going bankrupt, or the defense budget going bankrupt, but I'd like to ask you, this whole issue of a trust fund -- there have been allegations that the government -- this surplus that has been building up all of these years as baby boomers have been paying into it, that both Democrats and Republicans over the years have been dipping into this trust fund. Could you explain how the trust fund works, and whether it's true that there have been -- there has been raiding of the trust fund by previous administrations?

ROGER HICKEY: For the last 20 years or so, we have all been paying a little extra. It's been more than a pay as you go system. We have been paying extra FICA taxes to get ready for the baby boom retirement. That trust fund is building up government bonds. They're as good as the government bonds that the Japanese and the Europeans buy from the Treasury. If we were to announce as some conservatives have, that somehow that trust fund doesn't exist, it would be tantamount to the U.S. government announcing that they were defaulting on their bonds. The problem, of course, is that the administration, this administration especially, has run up big deficits by cutting taxes for the very wealthy, and now they're doing a bait and switch. They're trying to say, well, we don't have the money in the trust fund. Of course, we do. And of course, that money will be used for the baby boom retirement. It's really, the problem that faces Social Security way out in the future is that we're all living longer. It's not the baby boomers. We'll all be dead by the time -- or very, very old by the time that the challenges hit the Social Security system. Not to say that we shouldn't tweak and fix the system now, but keep your eye on the ball. This administration is trying to make people afraid that the Social Security system is going to collapse, and therefore, they're trying to get us to all buy their plan to cut Social Security benefits, and privatize the Social Security system right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Roger Hickey, there's a piece in today's Washington Post that talks about the campaign that's being launched by the Bush administration saying, President Bush plans to reactivate his re-election campaign's network of donors and activists to build pressure on lawmakers to allow workers to invest part of Social Security taxes in the stock market. White House allies are launching a market research project to figure out how to sell the plan in the most comprehensible and appealing way, and Republican marketing and public relations gurus are building teams of consultants to promote it. What exactly is happening right now?

ROGER HICKEY: Well, this is going to be a campaign run by Karl Rove and Ken Melman and the people who ran the President's re-election campaign. They have allies. Look for groups already advertising, the Progress for America Organization, funded by contributors to the Bush campaign. The Club For Growth. They're going to be raising somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million to sell this privatization plan. But we shouldn't worry too much. So far, the President has been talking in vague terms about, “Wouldn't you like to have some private accounts.” Now because he's trying to pass something this year, the real details which are very, very unpopular, are coming out. The fact is that inherent in their plan is a 40% cut for young workers in terms of their retirement benefits under Social Security. They are going to have to come up with a way to finance a $2 trillion transition cost that they simply don't have the money for. So, what we're seeing in the last two weeks is a lot of details about their plans coming out in the press, and those details are very unpopular when the American people are asked, “Do you like private accounts?,” they sort of say, “Well, maybe.” But when they're asked, “Would you like private accounts if it means cutting your retirement benefits in the future?” They turn very, very strongly against it. We have a campaign that is going to be big money on one side, and the American people on the other educating themselves about the details of the Bush plan.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Could you talk a little bit about why this is happening, why Bush and the Republican party are so hell-bent on pressing this campaign forward? I know in the Wall Street Journal in the days after the election in November said that one of the -- one of the industries most expecting to benefit from the new administration was going to be the Wall Street firms that would be in essence managing all of these private -- private retirement accounts that the President hopes to be able to get for the American people. Are there any estimates of how much of a boon this would be to Wall Street?

ROGER HICKEY: Well, it would mean trillions of dollars in terms of management fees that would erode small accounts that would be set up under this plan. So, yes, Wall Street has a motivation, but I think that really, it's broader than that. The Bush administration and the people around them really are out on an ideological mission to dismantle affirmative government. And therefore, they know that if they can get away with dismantling the Social Security system, the very, very popular retirement social insurance system that Americans have supported for decades, if they can dismantle that and privatize it as part of their “ownership society,” the slogan of which ought to be: “You're on your own, buddy,” that means that they can get away with practically anything. They can dismantle regulation. They can really go about the -- their whole agenda of dismantling government. It's an ideological fixation with them, and it's going to be an epic test with the very wealthy corporate America and Bush supporters on one side, and on the other side, the organizations that represent the American people. Labor, women's organizations, retiree groups around the country, AARP has just gotten into this battle. We have got a sizable coalition on the other side which is going to be very, very active at the grassroots level talking to members of Congress, and there are a lot of Republican members of Congress who are caught in the middle. They are very, very worried about the fiscal irresponsibility of this plan, about the idea of cutting benefits for their constituents, and I think that this is a battle that Americans, not the Bush administration, are going to win.

AMY GOODMAN: Roger Hickey is with us, Co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, part of a coalition to protect Social Security. The other day we called the Social Security hotline to get some information. When you're put on hold, this is what you hear:

SOCIAL SECURITY HOTLINE: Thanks for holding. A representative will be with you shortly. Did you know that the 76 million strong baby boom generation will begin to retire in about 10 years? When that happens, changes will be need to be made to Social Security, changes to make sure there's enough money to continue paying full benefits, and most experts agree, the sooner those changes are made, the less they are going to cost.

AMY GOODMAN: Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America's future. Your response to this message on hold, taxpayer funded Social Security administration where people call to get information.

ROGER HICKEY: Well, this is just one of the campaigns that the administration is doing. This is not unusual. We have seen them do packaged pseudo-newsclips to sell the President’s Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to help the H.M.O.’s and the drug industry. We have seen them pay pundits in Washington to support the so-called “No Child Left Behind Act.” That's been in the news lately. And they are simply using what should be a government service run by civil servants to propagandize the American people who are looking for help dealing with Social Security. The union representing workers who work in the Social Security Administration, the American Federation of Government Employees, is protesting this. They're manipulating their workers, forcing them to propagandize the public. Senator Lautenberg and others have protested on the Senate floor and are looking into yet another investigation of the inappropriate use of government funds to propagandize in the middle of this very hotly contested legislative battle here on the future of Social Security. It is totally inappropriate and probably illegal.

JUAN GONZALEZ: When it battle begins to move to the Congress, can you give us an idea of who are some of the key Senators or members of the House of Representatives that would be influential in terms of determining, or maybe on the fence in terms of determining which way this thing goes?

ROGER HICKEY: Well, it's interesting. In the past, the Bush administration has had Republicans very, very united in voting their tax cuts and on the Prescription Drug Plan, both of which were an easy vote for Republicans offering a tax cut or a benefit to their constituents. It's really the rank and file Republicans, not the leadership, but the rank and file Republicans, the little guys, the back benchers. Congressman Davis of Virginia, who is very worried about having to vote for privatization. He's a Republican, former head of the Congressional Campaign Committee for the Republicans, estimates that there's about 30 to 40 Republican Congress people who really don't want to vote to cut benefits and privatize Social Security. So, it's really going to come down to keeping the Democrats solidly opposed and so far, they have been, and then American people really talking to those 30 or 40 Republicans, and making sure that they stick with their convictions. This is a winnable fight. The house leadership is -- on the Republican side, is going to be with the President. But the people and the Republican rank and file as well as the Democrats under Congresswoman Pelosi and Harry Reid, are going to stay pretty united against privatization. It's
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Old 01-16-2005, 05:45 PM   #2
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Great idea, I think that its high time governments stopped trying to equalise the wealth of the people through high taxation and government intervention. Retain the bare minimum safety nets but eliminate the broad scale actions - laissez faire, laissez passer.
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Old 01-16-2005, 05:55 PM   #3
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Ugh. Pieces like this are why I (sometimes) despise politics.

One side is warning of a doomsday scenario, while the other side is trying to portray the proposed scheme as rich businessmen preying on the people.
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Old 01-16-2005, 07:58 PM   #4
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I am not a Bush fan. I think he's horrible - worst president in my lifetime.

HOWEVER...

I actually agree with him concerning Social Security. I have 2 to 3 decades before I retire. And I'm one of the "older" fans here. Some of you teens and 20-somethings might not retire for another 4 to 5 decades. Sadly, I really don't think Social Security will survive another 20 years, let alone 40.

I have a huge chunk of my paycheck going to Social Security. Right now, my Social Security deposits are not saving for my retirement - I'm paying for other people's retirements! The people who are collecting Social Security now - and this includes my parents - have long since collected back what they put in. They are relying on people like me to supplement their income.

Still this type of system (where current workers pay for the retirement of others) might work for a lot longer period of time, if it weren't soon to be overburdened with the retiring baby boomers in 10 years. Soon, the number of people collecting will outnumber those depositing. And then what?

I'm sorry, but I don't want to take a chance of seeing all of the money I put into Social Security go "up in smoke" shortly before I retire. Therefore, either dismantle Social Security and let me worry about my own retirement plans or privatize it so that it has a better guarantee of surviving.

I know, I know... there will be those who can't afford to save for retirement and may be counting on Social Security. But should they? I can guarantee them that their Social Security checks won't be enough to live on (unless they live VERY cheaply and remain healthy until death).

It just seems to me that this system needs a good overhauling. And it really needs the government to stop tapping into those funds and spending them. Hence, privatization might be the way to go.
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Old 01-16-2005, 10:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer
Ugh. Pieces like this are why I (sometimes) despise politics.

One side is warning of a doomsday scenario, while the other side is trying to portray the proposed scheme as rich businessmen preying on the people.
I can understand how it can look this way, but I hope you will research a bit more and find out.
I truly hope something I read recently is not true:
Something like: You give enough people a job, house, car, vacation and a they will become complacent and stop paying attention.
****************
This next article is long but this issue is not something that can be summed up in a neat little package like GW wants everyone to believe.

Social Security is the crown jewel of progressive government -- a singular achievement that has reshaped what used to be penniless old age. Now George Bush and Republican leaders have made phasing out Social Security as we know it through privatization and massive benefit cuts their top priority for 2005.

Even House Republicans are skeptical about the scheme. According to a recent Washington Post article, as many as 40 Republican members are considering voting against it. So the final vote is likely to be extremely close, and Bush and the Wall Street firms that stand to make billions are pulling out all the stops. According to some reports, they're raising up to $100 million for advertising to apply pressure.

Bush started his publicity blitz on Tuesday, and now the clock is ticking for House and Senate members to state their position. We need to send them a message before it is too late. Let your members of Congress know that you want them to protect Social Security by signing our petition at the link below:

http://www.moveon.org/socialsecurity/

Our goal is to deliver 200,000 signatures on a petition to Congress when they return after the January 20 inauguration. That is a big goal in such a short time but we know that you can help make it happen by forwarding this alert to your friends, family and coworkers.

In pushing this issue, Bush is working out of the same play book that he used for the war in Iraq. First, he's manufacturing a crisis, by grossly distorting the scale of the threat. Then, when Americans are convinced that the problem is clear and imminent, he'll propose a reckless solution -- privatization -- which just happens to help a lot of his corporate friends.

And of course, the gap between Bush's rhetoric and the truth is enormous. Social Security is a complicated issue, but the basics are really pretty simple:

Social Security provides monthly benefits to some 44 million Americans who are retired, disabled or the survivor of a deceased parent. It provides most of the income for older Americans -- some 64 percent of their support. It has lifted generations of seniors out of poverty.

Social Security is not in crisis. That is an outright lie perpetrated in order to create the urgency for radical changes. Under conservative forecasts, the long-term challenges in Social Security do not manifest themselves until 2042. Even then Social Security has 70 percent of needed funds. That shortfall is smaller than the amount needed in 1983, the last time we overhauled Social Security. George Bush's Social Security crisis-talk is an effort to create a specter of doom -- just like the weapons of mass destruction claim in Iraq.

Phasing out Social Security and replacing it with privatized accounts means one thing: massive cuts in monthly benefits for everybody. Social Security privatization requires diverting taxes used to pay current benefits into privatized accounts invested in risky stocks. Without that money, Social Security benefits will inevitably be cut -- some proposals even cut benefits of current retirees. These benefit cuts are inevitable, since diverting Social Security money into privatized accounts means less money to pay current and future benefits.

Every serious privatization proposal raises the Social Security retirement age to 70. That might be fine if you're a Washington special interest lobbyist but it is incredibly unfair to blue-collar Americans with tough, physical jobs, or for African Americans and Latinos with lower life expectancies.

Privatization means gambling with your retirement security. There is probably an appropriate place for a little stock market risk in retirement planning -- but it isn't Social Security. Privatization exposes your entire retirement portfolio to stock market risks -- and the risk that you'll outlive any of your savings at retirement. You can't outlive your Social Security benefit.

So who does benefit? Wall Street. Giant financial services firms have been salivating for decades over the prospect of taking over Social Security. Wall Street would make billions of dollars in profit by managing the privatized accounts -- money that would come directly from your benefits.
So far, the Democrats are united in the cause of protecting Social Security. If the Democrats are going to show some real backbone we need to back them. Show your support by signing the petition at the link below:

http://www.moveon.org/socialsecurity/

And after signing the petition, please help debunk the misinformation that's circulating by forwarding this email on to your friends and family.

Thanks for all you do.

--Tom Matzzie and Eli Pariser
MoveOn.org
January 13th, 2005

P.S.: For more information, here are some good resources:

Campaign for America's Future on Social Security
http://www.ourfuture.org/issues_and_...rity/index.cfm

The Social Security Network by The Century Foundation
http://www.socsec.org/

"The Iceberg Cometh" by Paul Krugman. The New York Times. January 11, 2005 (registration required)
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/11/op...partner=rssnyt

"Bush Launches PR Campaign to change Social Security" by Richard Benedetto and Judy Keen, USA TODAY January 11, 2005
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washing...y_x.htm?csp=34
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Old 01-16-2005, 10:37 PM   #6
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Top Democrats last week accused Bush of manufacuring a crisis in Social Security. Actually it was Mr. Clinton, years ago, who first declared SS was in jeopardy and needed a fix. So Dems should go back and look up quotes from their boy before playing politics.
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Old 01-16-2005, 10:39 PM   #7
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MoveOn.org. That's who I want to go to for the facts! If there's absolutely any benefit to big business, it must be one big conspiracy.
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Old 01-17-2005, 03:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by doctorwho
I have a huge chunk of my paycheck going to Social Security. Right now, my Social Security deposits are not saving for my retirement - I'm paying for other people's retirements! The people who are collecting Social Security now - and this includes my parents - have long since collected back what they put in. They are relying on people like me to supplement their income.
I thought that what was collected over a person's lifetime plus interest was what was paid out when retired. I didn't know people collected more than they put in.


Quote:
Originally posted by doctorwho
I know, I know... there will be those who can't afford to save for retirement and may be counting on Social Security. But should they? I can guarantee them that their Social Security checks won't be enough to live on (unless they live VERY cheaply and remain healthy until death).

It just seems to me that this system needs a good overhauling. And it really needs the government to stop tapping into those funds and spending them. Hence, privatization might be the way to go.
I agree that the government should not be able to tap into social security funds and spend it. I am unclear as to why this is such an easy thing to do.

There are so many people that live for the here and now and would not save any money. Heck, when I was in my early twenties - all I was concerned about was saving for a house. Putting away for my retirement was not a thought. Even currently - it can be hard to make ends meet. If my company didn't offer a 401k plan, I highly doubt I would be saving for my retirement. Perhaps this will all work out if there are mandatory 401k plans for all workers, and the employer matches that as opposed to paying the governement 6.2% of wages for social security. Even then, you might be hard pressed to get all of the employees to sign up. A lot in my company don't.
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Old 01-17-2005, 09:16 AM   #9
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Plain and simple. I have been paying social security taxes since I was 15 and when I turn 65 I want what is due to me!!!! If they can't pay it ,then they need to make cuts elsewhere like his 400,000 dollar a year paycheck.
The reason SS is going broke, is because for years and years the Gov. borrowed from the fund. Well they need to pay it back!!
Many people in the US do not have retirement funds and depend on SS to take care of themselves in their senior years. I will also be one of those people.
I am so sick of Bush and think there is another hidden agenda to all this Social Security rant of his.
One aganda might be big bussiness which pays a lot of Social Security tax.
I can not wait untill his term is over!!!!!!!
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Old 01-17-2005, 10:47 AM   #10
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With all the kickback checks Bush is getting from Halliburton, Drug Companies, Oil Companies and Wall Street, he'll never have to work another day in his life!
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Old 01-17-2005, 03:41 PM   #11
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Drhack you overlooked the cabal of sinister neocon zionists, never overlook the sinister neocon zionists.
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Old 01-18-2005, 12:46 AM   #12
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Oh yeah the pro Israel lobby. They owe him too.
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Old 01-18-2005, 05:52 AM   #13
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How is SS a wealth equalizer? Working at a bank for a few years, I saw hundreds of SS checks-no wealth being tranfserred there. That is not to say that the money is not helpful to many, but it is hardly transferring wealth. I would prefer to see some privatization because I want control of what I put in. I am from a very poor background so I am not some rich person who is just greedy (isn't that how the left portrays the rich unless they are documentary makers, actors/actresses, or musicians?). At the rate SS is going, I will get jack when I retire. If I have some semblance of control, then I can guarantee that I will get a better returrn for my investment.
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Old 01-18-2005, 06:06 PM   #14
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Re: Social Security?

Quote:
Originally posted by Scarletwine
[B]Mofo conservatives = dismantle the greatest wealth equalizer in history/
http://www.democracynow.org/article..../01/14/1519241



[B]
Wouldn't the greatest wealth equalizer in history be the USSR? Mofo?
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Old 01-18-2005, 06:48 PM   #15
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never mind
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