Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Question Answered
Earlier I pointed to the question some prominent bloggers (but hardly anyone else) have been asking: does the President intend to honor the treasury bonds, the IOUs, that make up the social security trust fund, or does he plan on pretending that the fund, accumulated in bonds since the payroll tax increase in 1983, does not exist. Bush's answer today?...What trust fund?
Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust.
Josh Marshall believes the President has violated his oath of office.

For 20 years (and for the next 15 years), if I understand it correctly, workers and employers have paid surpluses toward social security benefits on the promise that the excess would allow them to receive guaranteed benefit security when the big numbers of the baby boom generation retire. True, that money hasn't been just sitting in cash in a bank account or big jar somewhere. The government has borrowed from it almost every year (except 1999 and 2000) to help the general fund meet its expenses. But those payroll taxes (a far more regressive tax than the income tax, by the way) would never have been raised for the purpose of the general fund. They were raised on the backs of a promise to help stave off a potential problem. Now, Bush is telling payroll tax payers they have no right of expectation to receive redemption of those bonds. You have been funding basic government operations all along, even though that's what the federal income tax is intended to do.

We can only hope that reasonable and wise members of Congress will not allow this covenant to be broken.

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