Newsletter #39 Fall 2005
|● SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY
● STUDENTS: KEY TO PRA’S ?
● ANNUAL MEETING
|● CATO BOOKLET AVAILABLE
● BIPARTISAN RECKLESSNESS
● DRUG BENEFIT
COMMUNITY DAY A BIG SUCCESS
University of Delaware students and SAFE members together conducted a survey on Social Security reform at the 9/18/05 Newark, DE Community Day. Our table was one of the busiest – 263 people participated in the survey. We enjoyed the interaction with the students and we appreciate their help.
Some of the students who worked with us are affiliated with Students for Saving Social Security, a new organization which is already a substantial force in promotion of Personal Retirement Accounts. See the next item for more info.
Here is a summary of results of the survey. It is included in Bill Whipple’s news release which can be seen on our web site.
1. Which statement best describes your feelings about the urgency of the projected shortfall?
Ninety-two percent of participants said this issue “should be addressed now;” only 8% said it “can be dealt with later” or “will take care of itself”.
2. In 1983, when Social Security was last “reformed,” our political leaders agreed on a package of tax increases and benefit cuts. If the same thing were to be done again, what would you consider the proper mix?
Participants were offered a choice between 20% tax increases/ 80% benefit cuts, 50% tax increases/ 50% benefit cuts, 80% tax increases/ 20% benefit cuts, and “other.” One-third said 50/50, one-third said “other” (often adding that neither tax increases nor benefit cuts should be necessary, at least for themselves), and the remainder split between 20/80 and 80/20.
3. Do you think Congress should fix Social Security for good this time, and then keep their hands off it?
Fifty-four percent said “yes,” 16% said “no,” and 30% were “not sure.” Several undecided participants expressed skepticism about fixing things once and for all, e.g., “I’m not sure Congress can be trusted to fix Social Security right.”
4. How do you feel about the taxes that you and/or others pay for Social Security?
Nine participants out of ten said that all of these taxes “should be spent on Social Security,” while one out of 10 said “it’s OK for any excess to be spent on other government programs” [as Congress has been doing for the past two decades].
There was a consensus on two key points:
· Most people see Social Security reform as an issue that should be addressed now. Forget whether the system is facing a “crisis” or a “problem,” the argument that our county can afford to let things slide has been rejected.
· There is growing awareness that Congress is spending “excess” Social Security taxes for other programs, and people don’t like it. Among core workers (30-54), disapproval of this practice is virtually unanimous.
STUDENTS: KEY TO PRA’S ?
In Newsletter #37, we told you about students for Saving Social Security, (4S) and their web site, www.secureourfuture.org since then, they have been very active. They now have Campus Coordinators at over 200 colleges, and five Regional Coordinators.
4S met with President Bush in July. They were briefed by Karl Rove and other administration officials in a September Nationwide Conference Call. A joint news conference was held with Senator Tom DeMint, Dick Armey and the President of Freedom Works. With the 60-plus seniors organization they appeared jointly on C-Span.
This activity is resulting in significant radio and newspaper coverage. Quoting an August 8th Washington Post article by Jeff Birnbaum: “Their goal-to enlist other college kids in their quest to enact President Bush’s plan to add private accounts to Social Security- has succeeded beyond their dreams”.
Their outreach coordinator, Shawn McCoy, sends weekly e-mail reports which usually include significant developments. They attended Connecticut and Massachusetts Young Republican Conventions where they handed out 100-Grand candy bars labeled “The amount in your Personal Retirement Account”.
They have an Advisory Board, including Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and Board member of The Independent Institute.
4S actively opposes AARP’s position on PRA’s. As this is written, they plan to attend an AARP membership meeting in a duck costume, with posters including “AARP is ducking the issue”.
At the beginning of the school year, 4S sent leadership info to each member campus along with material for 50 members to sign up and send letters to their members of congress. They also ask students to partner with a Professor to write an Op-Ed piece. As a resource they have Cato Institute’s list of 450 Economists who support Personal Retirement Accounts.
The impact of 4S on the PRA question is up to the student’s commitment, energy and imagination. Larger senior’s organizations and others are backing them. SAFE and its members can help locally if asked. The least we can do is publicize their web site, www.secureourfuture.org, in various ways. This could include telling college students who might be interested, and using it in letters to the editor.
The 2005 Annual Meeting will be held at Winterthur Museum, just west of Wilmington, DE, at 1 PM Thursday, November 17th. All SAFE members are invited.
Call President Bill Whipple, or any of the Directors for directions. You are also invited to join the Directors luncheon the Annual Meeting preceding at 11:30 AM if you wish.
We realize it is inconvenient for many members to attend the annual meeting. If this includes you, please don’t hesitate to call with questions, suggestions or information.
CATO BOOKLET AVAILABLE
CATO Institute has published an excellent 32 page booklet, “It’s Your Money” – A Citizen’s Guide to Social Security Reform. It emphasizes ownership, inheritability and choice as advantages for Personal Retirement Accounts. This booklet is an excellent reference for personal discussions and letters to the editor promoting Personal Retirement Accounts.
We gave copies of the booklet to each participant in the Community Day survey on Social Security Reform. We have an ample supply, so we’d be happy to mail you a copy. Just contact Bill Morris at (302) 475-7060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Spending like there’s no tomorrow” describes the poor performance of Congress. Most members of both parties are complicit in this reckless behavior. As members of SAFE, we oppose the buildup of debt because of its obvious unfairness to our children and grandchildren. However, it has gotten so bad that today’s senior citizens are now at risk.
Even for the USA, there is a limit to how much debt can be built up before it comes crashing down. When the debt gets too high, many investors start to worry, and refuse to buy government bonds. Then the interest rate has to be increased, adding even more to the debt. Then more investors worry – This happened to New Zealand – nobody would lend them money.
Nobody knows the level of the federal debt relative to the economy that would cause a crash. We do know that the U.S. federal debt is already well beyond the level where crashes have occurred elsewhere. Events beyond our control could result in disaster. Whatever Mother Nature has done since the U.S. was founded, she has done ten times as much in the past and don’t forget the terrorists.
In light of all this, can we say we need a federal prescription drug program? In light of this, do we really need Medicare?
Do we need to go to Mars this generation? I assume it will still be there 100 years from now.
What we really do need is to get real and cut spending with a meat cleaver. Sure, use a scalpel as well – eliminate pork, including corporate welfare.
This needs to be done, in fairness to the next generations, and even for our own safety.
It is abundantly clear that Congress should reverse course. Can that be done? I don’t know, but, as members of SAFE, I think we should do what we can.
How? Let’s put our heads together. What has a choice of influencing the behavior of Congress? What are we willing to do?
Think about it.
SOME SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS
In Newsletter #9, Spring 1998, we made specific suggestions for cutting federal government spending. Citizens Against Government Waste, CATO Institute and others make much more detailed suggestions. However, our one-page suggestions provided a simple snapshot of what is possible.
We are reprinting those suggestions here on page 6 because the federal debt is much larger now. Furthermore, the terrorist threat and natural disasters loom much larger now than in 1998, so it is even more important to take a serious look at such suggestions.
RESCIND THE PRESCRIPTION
The federal prescription drug benefit is known to be a budget buster. It is a sledge hammer used to drive a tack. A few Americans have a problem due to bad judgment or bad luck. We don’t need a huge federal program covering too many people and adding to the already bloated bureaucracy.
Keep in mind that the federal government is deeply in debt, and will have to borrow even more money for the prescription drug benefit. Keep in mind that the federal debt is at a dangerous level and the risks of a financial meltdown is significant. Unknown future blows from Mother Nature or from terrorists could make a shaky situation even worse.
The advisability of any prescription drug benefit is dubious. The best solution is simply to rescind the federal prescription drug benefit. The next best solution is to follow the Constitution by leaving prescription drug benefits to individual states. Risking financial meltdowns in individual states is much less dangerous than the risk for the federal government.
TID BITS FROM DICK REESE
Have you noticed. . . .new brides and new mothers look like children?
A new business opportunity. . . .handwriting classes for doctors.
You have about a dozen shirts in your closet. . . .yet you wear only about four of them. Your favorites.
You have noticed. . . .how churches fill up from the rear, while rock concerts from the front.
What’s not better. . . .than sliced bread?
If you answered the phone. . . .last evening, you could have donated to a half dozen charities.
It’s so hard. . . .to kill time.
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