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View Full Version : Parade of Policies Follows Familiar Route



SnakebyteXX
11-28-2004, 09:33 AM
Any expectations that President Bush might try to "govern from a bipartisan center" during his second term were dispelled as the administration reshuffled its economic team and outlined its domestic policies.

Former Wall Street executive Stephen Friedman announced he would step aside as director of the National Economic Council, where he has quietly managed the policy process without leaving any noticeable fingerprints. The front-runner for Friedman's job is the policy chief of the Bush campaign, Tim Adams. The White House was also said to be wooing MIT economist James Poterba and Stanford's John Cogan, two conservative experts in public finance, for spots on the Council of Economic Advisers.

The president won a political victory after Congress gave its approval to a $388 billion omnibus spending bill just hours after the measure emerged from a closed-door conference. Increases for discretionary spending for things other than defense and homeland security were held below 1 percent -- not enough even to cover a 3.5 percent pay increase for federal workers. Budget chief Josh Bolten left no doubt that, going forward, "budget discipline" would mean substantial cuts in domestic programs.

At the same time, the administration stepped up its campaign for partial privatization of Social Security. The major political and economic stumbling block to private accounts is that they would require borrowing an extra $1.5 trillion over the next decade to finance the transition from a pay-as-you-go social insurance program to a pre-funded public pension system. But the new line from the Bush team is that borrowing money to put into savings accounts, in an economic sense, doesn't alter the overall national savings rate. Nor, they argue, should it be counted as adding to the federal budget deficit, since it merely moves up borrowing that would have happened anyway. Democrats and fiscally conservative Republicans are sure to disagree.

Then there is tax reform, which some hoped would be a bipartisan effort but now seems to be shaping up as a political brawl. Signals from the White House are that the president would make the tax code simpler and fairer by eliminating the tax-free status of employer-paid health insurance and pension plans -- benefits enjoyed disproportionately by unionized workers in industrial "blue" states. Bush would also end the deduction for state and local taxes, which would be felt most keenly in high-tax Democratic states such as New York and California. At the same time, the president wants to eliminate taxation on all income from investments, which would lower the relative tax burden on wealthier, Republican precincts.


Washington Post Article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15935-2004Nov27.html)

Gayle in MD
11-28-2004, 10:47 AM
I repeat, I can't stand George Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!! This will go down as the most destructive administration in the history of this country. I am glad that I will not be having to live with knowing that I was dumb enough to vote for this total Jerk.

When all is said and done, there will be many red faced "Poor" Americans yearning nostalgically for the good ol' budget surplus days of the Clinton Administration.

Gayle In Md.

'How could forty Million be so dumb?'

Gayle in Md.

SecaucusFats
11-28-2004, 11:22 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Gayle in MD:</font><hr> I repeat, I can't stand George Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!! This will go down as the most destructive administration in the history of this country. I am glad that I will not be having to live with knowing that I was dumb enough to vote for this total Jerk.

When all is said and done, there will be many red faced "Poor" Americans yearning nostalgically for the good ol' budget surplus days of the Clinton Administration.

Gayle In Md.

'How could forty Million be so dumb?'

Gayle in Md. <hr /></blockquote>

Now, now Gayle tsk tsk tsk...calling 51% of our electorate "dumb" because they view things differently is not very sporting. Anyway, see my response to Snakebyte in the SS thread. Fact is, SS is headed for a disaster if nothing is done. Bush deserves some credit for having the testicular fortitude forget about all the "SS is a third rail" nonsense and actually propose doing something about it. The current system is basically just a sophisticated Ponzi scheme and as in any Ponzi scheme it is the "investors" (all of us)who will wind up holding the bag.

I understand that you can differ on what needs to be done, and that being the case..rather than just bellyaching about it, how about proposing some constructive alternatives?

SF

Gayle in MD
11-28-2004, 07:37 PM
'How could Forty Million Be So Dumb?' was the headline in a London Newspaper the day after the election, not my words, although I agree.

Well, lets see now, for starters, it should have always been illegal for our government to borrow money from our SS funds. Instead, safe investments with those funds over the last fifty years might have been a good idea, and built enough surplus to keep things in kilter with the declining population, along with less frivolous spending habits by the house and the senate. Pre-empted attacks on countries which have not attacked us could have saved us a few dollars, rebuilding oil rich countries could be avoided. Preventing the pension rich Congress and Senate from drawing SS. Preventing the extremely wealthy from drawing SS. Creating jobs which would investigate SS fraud and disability fraud would help, along with exposing all the other thieves who live here and work under the table. Preventing corporations from sending jobs overseas which do not pay into the SS fund and closing the loopholes for the wealthy in our tax laws. Above all, campaign reform which would help prevent our so called statesmen from selling us out to the big money special interest thieves which are running this country into the ground. Yeah, I think it could have been done....in fact, could still be...

Gayle in Md.

SecaucusFats
11-28-2004, 09:32 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Gayle in MD:</font><hr> 'How could Forty Million Be So Dumb?' was the headline in a London Newspaper the day after the election, not my words, although I agree.

Well, lets see now, for starters, it should have always been illegal for our government to borrow money from our SS funds.

<font color="green">Right from the onset the system was designed so that SS funds would go directly into the general fund. In effect SS was "loaning" money to the government and the government in turn issues promissory notes backed by "the full faith and credit of the US Government". There has never been any such thing as the oft-mentioned "lock box". It was a flawed design from its conception. Not that the concept was a bad thing, I just think it could have been done better.

</font color> Instead, safe investments with those funds over the last fifty years might have been a good idea, and built enough surplus to keep things in kilter with the declining population, along with less frivolous spending habits by the house and the senate.

<font color="green">Yes, I agree with you, but that was then and this is now. Should we continue down that path or do we embrace reform? BTW congress was moving more pork than a southern BBQ with the Omnibus Spending Bill that just recently passed. </font color>

Pre-empted attacks on countries which have not attacked us could have saved us a few dollars, rebuilding oil rich countries could be avoided.

<font color="green">This is debatable but I'll pass on this one.
</font color>

Preventing the pension rich Congress and Senate from drawing SS.

<font color="green">Gayle where have you been? Don't you know they opted out of the SS system right from the get go? Hell, they have the cushiest, choicest, finest retirement plan, and Congresscritters qualify no matter how long they've served.
</font color>
Preventing the extremely wealthy from drawing SS.

<font color="green">I could live with that but I believe that the person who is thus relieved of money paid into the system should get a tax exemption over a set period. Think of it like this.. say the person gets a one time tax abatement, well the government gets a huge break because now it doesn't have to pay that guy his SS. Win - win
</font color>
Creating jobs which would investigate SS fraud and disability fraud would help, along with exposing all the other thieves who live here and work under the table. Preventing corporations from sending jobs overseas which do not pay into the SS fund and closing the loopholes for the wealthy in our tax laws. Above all, campaign reform which would help prevent our so called statesmen from selling us out to the big money special interest thieves which are running this country into the ground. Yeah, I think it could have been done....in fact, could still be...

<font color="green"> Now you're talking! Hell where do we sign up!

When NY began welfare reform 300,000 "clients" out of 1,000,000 suddenly just "poof" disappeared from the rolls.
SSI reform and investigation would cause many millions to likewise go "poof".

The one area where we must tread carefully is in global trade relations. We have to remember that hundreds of thousands of American workers are employed in good paying decent jobs here in the good 'ol USA by companies such as Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, Fuji, Shell, BP, Honda and lots of others. Outsourcing is a problem but it is one that can be handled best IMO thru delicate diplomacy abroad and leadership and resolve at home.

Real campaign reform is certainly needed, but the problem is
who is guarding the hen-house? /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif </font color>

Gayle in Md. <hr /></blockquote>

SF

Gayle in MD
11-29-2004, 06:31 AM
Are you sure about the
Congress and Senate members not drawing SS? Seems to me when I heard that they did, I remember getting really mad. I could be wrong of course, could be that I just got mad at the exorbitant amount they get from their retirement plan, but I thought that along with that, they (Or their dependents) also get SS.

Gayle in Md. /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif

SnakebyteXX
11-29-2004, 07:16 AM
[ QUOTE ]
It is not true that Congressmen do not pay into the Social Security fund. They pay into the fund just as most everyone else does. (A few odd exceptions to the Social Security program still exist, both inside and outside of government.)

It was true prior to 1984 that Congressmen did not pay into the Social Security fund because they participated in a separate program for civil servants (the Civil Service Retirement System, or CSRS), but that program was closed to government employees hired after 1983:

In 1983, Public Law 98-21 required Social Security coverage for federal civilian employees first hired after 1983 and closed the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) to new federal employees and Members of Congress. All incumbent Members of Congress were required to be covered by Social Security, regardless of when they entered Congress. Members who had participated in CSRS before 1984 could elect to stay in that plan in addition to being covered by Social Security or elect coverage under an 'offset plan' that integrates CSRS and Social Security. Under the CSRS Offset Plan, an individual's contributions to CSRS and their pension benefits from that plan are reduced ('offset') by the amount of their contributions to, and benefits from, Social Security.

It is not true that Congressmen "continue to draw their same pay, until they die." The size of their pensions is determined by a number of factors (primarily length of service, but also factors such as when they joined Congress, their age at retirement, their salary, and the pension options they chose when they enrolled in the retirement system) and by law cannot exceed 80% of their salary at the time of their retirement.

The figures given as an example for Senator Bradley (or Senator Byrd, or Congressman White, depending upon which version one reads) $7,900,000 over the course of his and his wife's lifetime, culminating in a top payout of $275,000 are simply outrageous amounts with no basis in reality. There is no conceivable way Senator Bradley (or any other Congressman) could draw anywhere near that amount of money though the Congressional pension plan.

It is not true that Congressmen "paid nothing in on any kind of retirement," and that their pension money "comes right out of the General Fund." Whether members of Congress participate in the older Civil Service Retirement System or the newer Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), their pensions are funded through a combination of general tax provisions and contributions from the participants. Right now, members of Congress in the FERS plan must pay 1.3% of their salary to FERS and 6.2% in Social Security taxes.

As of 1998, the average annuity for retired members of Congress was $50,616 for those who retired under CSRS and $46,908 for those who retired under FERS. Not bad, but not the highway robbery this piece makes it out to be. <hr /></blockquote>

Urban Legends: Congressional Pensions (http://www.snopes.com/politics/taxes/pensions.asp )

SecaucusFats
11-29-2004, 07:31 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Gayle in MD:</font><hr> Are you sure about the
Congress and Senate members not drawing SS? Seems to me when I heard that they did, I remember getting really mad. I could be wrong of course, could be that I just got mad at the exorbitant amount they get from their retirement plan, but I thought that along with that, they (Or their dependents) also get SS.

Gayle in Md. /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif <hr /></blockquote>

I failed to check the facts. I was wrong and I now stand corrected. /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif

Under a law enacted in 1983, all members of Congress participate in the Social Security system, both contributing and receiving benefits. Upon retirement, members receive either a combination of federal pension and Social Security benefits or Social Security alone, depending on when their term of service started and how they configured their individual plan.

Members elected after 1983 pay into the Federal Employees Retirement System. Members elected before 1983 participate in the older Civil Service Retirement Program. In both cases, members of Congress contribute to the plans at a slightly higher rate than ordinary federal employees.

As of 2000, 409 retired members were receiving benefits under CSRS at an average rate of $52,464 per year and 53 had retired under FERS with $46,932 per year in average benefits. Members do not automatically received lifetime pensions. How much they receive and how long they receive it depends on many factors, including age, length of service (including military) and choice of plans, etc.

SF