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A plan, a plan, their kingdom for a plan

By Frank Salvato
web posted May 2, 2005

As some of the more critical issues facing our nation finally start coming before those we elected to examine, debate and resolve them, one thing has become tragically apparent. The majority of those on the left side of the aisle have arrived ill-prepared to do the business of the 109th Congress, and unwilling to do the business of government.

It is incomprehensible that leaders of a major political party would put party politics and special interests ahead of the needs of the American people. That is exactly what the leaders of the Democratic Party are doing as the much anticipated Social Security debate begins.

Those who enjoy stuffing their ears with their fingers while ignoring the obvious will argue that Social Security is solvent and will be for years to come. These are the same people who believe that they are financially responsible because they haven't hit the limit on all of their credit cards. They have a debtor's mentality and are incapable of any meaningful debate on Social Security. Their idea of planning for the future is a cold case of beer and a spare roll of toilet paper.

President Bush, prepared with a plan, has dared to touch the third-rail of American politics. Having taken the time to read the original Social Security proposal laid-out by Franklin Roosevelt the president has suggested that we complete what is only partially accomplished.

As much as the revisionists of the liberal left don't want to admit it, Roosevelt's original Social Security proposal had three elements including the third, "voluntary contributory annuities." A voluntary contributory annuity, translated from the language of the early 20th Century, refers to privatization. Roosevelt described them thusly:

"Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

President Bush's proposal for voluntary personal retirement accounts follows Roosevelt's idea of voluntary contributory annuities, albeit at a significantly lesser percentage, trusting a portion of payroll taxes – and Social Security's well-being – to the superior American system of capitalism. Look at the dismal effectiveness of government run programs compared with the performance of similar private sector programs to see the benefit. Comparing public education to private illustrates my point quite well.

Still, not wanting to be one to play partisan politics with such a serious matter, President Bush reached out to those in the Democratic leadership. In his 2005 State of the Union Address the president said that although he supports voluntary personal retirement accounts (something that Alan Greenspan also supports), he considered all options to be on the table.

"Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open, candid review of the options. Some have suggested limiting benefits for wealthy retirees. Former Congressman Tim Penny has raised the possibility of indexing benefits to prices rather than wages. During the 1990s, my predecessor, President Clinton, spoke of increasing the retirement age. Former Senator John Breaux suggested discouraging early collection of Social Security benefits. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended changing the way benefits are calculated. All these ideas are on the table… I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer."

Now the time has come to engage in an "open candid review of the options." But it appears the brain trusts of the minority Democratic Party have come to the political negotiating table armed not with well thought out alternatives to the proposals of their counterparts but with only an unspecific strategy designed to oppose, denigrate, obstruct and malign.

To date, there hasn't been one Democratic member of Congress who has offered any significant or realistic plan to save Social Security. In fact, the only thing that we hear from the Democrats is that they won't take their fingers out of their ears until President Bush takes the 2005 incarnation of Franklin Roosevelt's original idea of voluntary contributory annuities (voluntary personal retirement accounts) "off the table."

While Barbara Boxer alleges that the successful privatized retirement system of Galveston, Texas has failed and Ted Kennedy rambles on interminably about Abu Ghraib, where are the ideas from the Democratic Party? Is the only solution they have to the problems we face taxes? Are more taxes, higher taxes, expanding the parameters on who can be taxed and what can be taxed their revolutionary new plan for the future of America?

Of course that leads to a more relevant question about the Democratic Party: Why do people keep voting for them?

Frank Salvato is a political media consultant and managing editor for TheRant.us. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us Copyright © 2005 Frank Salvato

 

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