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To the editor:
I was on a
mission yesterday. My mission took me to Lincoln College to ask Sen.
Barak Obama, "How are we going to fund the IOUs in the Social
Security Trust Fund?" After hearing his scripted, rote answer,
defending his opposition to private accounts, I have to admit my
mission failed. Barak, practicing the political art of the dodge and
weave, did not answer my question. Disappointed? Yes. Surprised? No.
My mission started with letters to Sen. Durbin, Sen. Obama and
Rep. LaHood. I received the standard, generic letters from LaHood
and Durbin that typically failed to even remotely match my inquiry.
I have yet to receive a response from Sen. Obama. But, since he is
still getting his staff up to speed on sending out meaningless
replies to constituent letters, I'll cut him some slack.
Why the mission? Frankly, I am mad. I am mad that our
representatives in both parties are defending ideologies instead of
representing the people. Sen. Obama, defending the Democratic line
yesterday, stated that Social Security does not have a problem until
the year 2042. That assumes that Social Security Trust Fund actually
has some real assets that can be tapped beginning when benefit
payments start to exceed payroll taxes in the next 10 to 15 years.
Hence my question about the IOUs. Those IOUs have to be funded by
increasing taxes or more borrowing. Or, we can delay tapping into
the IOUs by what? Increasing taxes, more borrowing and/or reducing
benefits. Same hole. Why can't the politicians in Washington just be
straight about this?
[to top of second
column in this letter]
Here is why I am mad: I own a small business employing me and my
wife. We pay the self-employment tax created by the previous Social
Security reformers. This means that the entire load of employee and
employer Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid taxes derives solely
from our spit and grit. Because our income taxes have not been
adequate to meet the spending needs in Washington, the politicians
have dipped into the surplus of Social Security taxes to fund their
spending spree and tax cuts (primarily for the wealthy). Very
conveniently, they borrowed this by placing certificates
representing U.S. Treasury notes in a file cabinet in Washington --
the so-called IOUs. Turn the crank and nothing pops out except this
weasel -- more taxes from me to replace what they took from me
previously. Or more borrowing from China (more jobs in China and
more Wal-Marts at home).
OK. Obama, as you said yesterday, there is no free lunch. I also
accept that the private-account scenario offers no solution to the
dismal financial picture of Social Security. But please, just be
straight with us and tell us how bad the sacrifice is going to be.
Stop the demagoguing and start the leadership.
I was quite inspired by the turnout from the people of Lincoln
yesterday at the town meeting. To the young in attendance, I can
only say that missions into the political landscape of American
democracy are seldom accomplished with a single question or banner.
It takes a lot of persistence and follow-up with your
representatives to keep them focused on any issue that is important
to you. The muddle is deep. Don't give up.
(Posted Feb. 25, 2005)
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