Sunday, March 06, 2005
Solvency: I've called on New York Times economist/columnist Paul Krugman to deliver on his promised plan to fix Social Security, so far without success.
On "Fox News Sunday" today, anchor Chris Wallace tried to get the Democrats' plan to save Social Security out of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi -- also without success. After letting Pelosi fillibuster for a few minutes (I know, wrong house of Congress), Wallace played an Internet ad with GOP Rep. David Dreier playing David Spade's Capitol One character "Mr. No," -- "Pay as you No" -- demonstrating that Democrats have offered no plan. (Tivo'd transcript follows)
Wallace: Congresswoman, I guess the question is, it's obvious that you guys don't like private accounts, let's put that off the table. But everybody agrees there's a long-term solvency problem ...
Wallace: with Social Security. My question is: The Democrats, it's their plan, Social Security, what is your idea of how to solve the long-term solvency issue.
Pelosi: First, may I just say, of that, that is what the taxpayers dollar a political ad on the Internet of the House Republican leadership, that's another issue.
Oh my, politics on politicians' Web sites! I'm scandalized. If I recall, you can find a bogus Social Security "calculator" on most Democrats' government Web sites. Spare us the "outrage."
Wallace: What's your plan? What's your plan for the long-term solvency?
Pelosi: The plan for solvency is to stop robbing Social Security of its money for other purposes. The plan is to return the money back to the trust fund as President Clinton did when he was president. In the Clinton years, in the closing years of the Clinton administration, there were three years of no deficit. Zero deficit. And with the surpluses that were created, President Clinton was able to put nearly $400 billion back into Social Security. It's an issue of solvency.
Yes, it's an issue of solvency, but you haven't demonstrated that you know what the word means.
Is the Democrats' leader in the House really this stupid? Or just dishonest? Pelosi's "plan" does nothing to address Social Security's underlying demographic problem. Clinton didn't put money back into the Social Security "trust fund," he paid down the government's debt.
Pelosi: Your previous speaker (White House counselor Dan Bartlett -- Fox News does supply a transcript of his remarks here) said, incorrectly, that Social Security would be in the red in 2018. That's simply not true. The more money going out than coming in doesn't start until 2030. There's time for us to do this right.
I've not been able to find where Pelosi gets her 2030 date, according to the Cato Institute as recently as Feb. 22, the date was still 2018.
Pelosi: Any, what the problem *unintelligible*. Any inititiative that so many people depend on in our country, that takes up so many of our dollars is something that we should subject to scrutiny on a regular basis.
Wallace: But I just want to make sure Congresswoman Pelosi, you know, we're talking about Social Security, the Democratic social program, I didn't hear anything about raising taxes ...
Pelosi: Of course you didn't.
Wallace: I didn't hear anything about cutting deficits, cutting benefits, rather. There doesn't seem to be any plan that you are offering to solve the long term solvency.
Pelosi: Chris, the issue is solvency. And the issue of solvency is one that President Reagan and Tip O'Neill addressed in 1983.
Wallace: But there's a problem now, and I'm asking you do you have an answer.
Pelosi: They took. They had a crisis at that time. There is no crisis as the President indicated to us in our private meeting with him, until he went out and said it's a crisis, it's bankrupt. That's not the case. What we have to do come together in a bipartisan way at the table, bringing principles that say we cannot begin by slashing benefits. We must stop robbing Social Security's trust fund of its money to pay for other things to cover the enormous deficits in the Bush reckless economic policy.
So, I get the feeling from Rep. Pelosi that the issue is solvency, and solvency is the issue.
At least Rep. Pelosi has set aside any plan to slash benefits, so that apparently leaves raising taxes and raising the retirement age. But neither of those is the issue, solvency is. In honor of Rep. Pelosi, I will end every post this week with a Dan Ratheresque call: