Friday, March 10, 2006

Bush says his beliefs unshaken by poor poll numbers

I admire Bush for thinking this way.
Now, there is plenty of blame to go around if you want to talk about WHY Bush's poll numbers are the way they are, and if you want talk about that you can.

What is nice to see is Bush standing up for what he believes in. The worst thing for a politician to do is actually try and fix something. Bush has done his best to change and take care of the things in this world he thinks are a problem. Usually politicians talk about how to do something, or form a committee to figure out how to fix something......but very few actually go out and try and solve any problem.

Bush understands social security is going to fail in the future, he tries to fix it, and he is attacked from the Left. The Lefts response is to do nothing.

Bush understands the greatest threat to the Western world is radial Islam....and he is trying to change the middle east. All he does is get drilled for conducting only the most successful military operation in US history.

So I say GOOD for sticking to your guns and doing what you think is right...


Jim said...

Nobody in the world is criticizing Bush for the immensely successful 6 week military invasion. Since then, not so successful, because he is asking the military to solve a political mess.

Funny how Bush understands that social security "is going to fail in the future", and just about every economist in the world as well as the Social Security administration and the Congressional Budget Office say it is not. If you believe Social Security will fail, then you either have not read and understood the numbers or you believe that the United States Government will default on its national debt.

Mike M said...

Jim, what numbers are you talking about that say Social Security isn't in trouble? I haven't seen any NUMBERS that actually suggest that, only opinions of critics.

More to the point, how is the Bush plan to create optional personal SS accounts (that can't be taken and spent by Congress) a bad thing?

Jim said...

You can visit the Social Security Administration website at

The Social Security Administration forecasts SS well into the future on a regular basis. They typically create 3 scenarios: worst case, middle case, and best case. Although they use WORST CASE for planning and projection purposes, their middle or best case scenarios CONSISTENTLY prove accurate.

Under their worst case scenario, with no changes to current law, SS will be totally funded by annual SS taxes until about 2014. At that time, for currently forecasted (remember worst case) payouts to continue, SS will have to begin using the Social Security Trust Fund, which was created specifically for this purpose, to maintain expected payouts. Remember, the Trust Fund is invested in US Treasuries backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government.

In about 2042 (again worst case), the Trust Fund is projected to be depleted. HOWEVER, SS will be able to continue to payout about 75% of expected payouts (worst case) if no changes to SS tax or payout levels are made.

This 75% (worst case) is better than any payouts currently projected under any alternative plan suggested or proposed to date.

The Social Security Trust Fund is invested in US Treasury Bonds and is currently about $1.7 trillion. That is money that the government has borrowed from Social Security and IS NOT included in debt figures published by the administration.

Have you ever wondered why Bush has suggested that the fund is just "a drawer full of paper?" He wants you to believe that it doesn't actually exist so you won't miss it when it doesn't get paid back.

Jason H. Bowden said...

There is good reason to dramatically scale down the scope of social security.

Jim said...

And what proposal do you endorse to "scale down Social Security?"

I would definitely favor raising the retirement age, by the way.

Mark said...

Bush understands the greatest threat to the Western world is radial Islam.

The left think the biggest threat is global warming. Both Gore and BJ Clinton have said that.

Global warming. If it exists, and it is still unproven, the warming is so gradual that the world won't experience any effects from it for at least 100 years, and most likely, much more.

Meanwhile, terrorists are still killing innocent American citizens. But Global warming is the biggest problem facing America today. Right.

Jim said...


Personal accounts shifts the risk from the government to the individual. It then becomes Social Guessing instead of Social Security.

You can make more of a return maybe if you guess right, but maybe you guess Enron and your retirement is screwed.

Or you can restrict the investments to Treasuries for security sake, but then you're lending the money to the federal government just like we're doing now.

Why is creating personal accounts a good thing? Remember, most people are already eligible for 401(k)s and IRAs. That's already in effect personal accounts. But that is over and above their SAFETY NET which is what Social Security is meant to be.

The Game said...

Good point mark...Bush thinks radical Islam is the biggest threat, some liberals think it is global warming...which side are you on?

And Jim,
The retirement age will HAVE to be raised, and it SHOULD be since people live longer...I'm saving for my retirement now, so when there is no SS in 30 years I can still retire

Jim said...

I believe the question is not that global warming is happening, but whether or not humans are accelerating it.

If you think global warming is not happening, then you probably think the earth is only 6,000 years old. The evidence for global warming is overwhelming.

You can look at photographs of glaciers from only a few dozen years ago compared to today, and it is obvious. You can look at pictures of the polar caps a few dozen years ago compared to today, and it is obvious.

You may doubt the research and conclusions of the majority of scientists around the world that greenhouse gasses created by humans is accelerating the process, but the pictures do not lie.

Just because you think Gore is a liar for some reason doesn't mean that global warming is a lie.

And the progress of warming is not linear.

But why don't we just pretend that everything is OK?

The Game said...

your right Jim,
the earth goes through warming and cooling periods...but I think many believe it is just natural and understand that the amount of data we have is statistically insignificant. 100 years out of millions....

Also, while some caps are getting smaller, some are getting bigger...

things are changing, but some use selective data to prove a political point....I am very interested in stats and data...and there is a great deal when it comes to environment and the world...

Global warming is definately not our greatest problem because we can not control the worlds environment...but we can try and stop arabs from killing us

Jim said...

Do you think that concern for global warming is a liberal vs conservative thing? Do you think believing that burning fossil fuels and creating greenhouse gasses is causing or accelerating global warning and that something should or could be done about it is a liberal vs conservative thing? Why?

Mike M said...

"backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government" translates to a file cabinet full of IOU's, not cash.

"That is money that the government has borrowed from Social Security..." -- Borrowed = Spent. Gone. File cabinet full of IOU's

Besides, what's the rate of return on SS these days? If you're lucky you get 50%, and that's if you live to be 95. That's not what I'd call an efficient investment.

Also, personal accounts would be inheritable. SS currently is not. Let's say someone who's nearing retirement after 40+ years dies... What happens to his "security net"? His wife isn't eligable for his money, she's only eligable for whatever the average of her last 40 years' income is...if she hasn't worked, she's screwed.

But if he'd been allowed to put that same money into a personal account, he can pass it on to his wife or heirs. Thus keeping HIS money.

Mike M said...

Question: How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Answer: Four and you're an idiot for calling the tail a leg.

What's all this "risk to the individual" nonsense? If you actually bothered to understand the proposal, you would remember that not only are the personal accounts optional, even if you have one, you don't HAVE to invest it. And if you do, with just a little effort, you can find MANY funds that are rock solid and diverse enough that short of a total economic collapse, you'd still end up with more than you started with. In the total collapse, money would be worthless anyway, so who cares?

And why should it be the government's job to protect people from unwise decisions? Having the opportunity to make your own decisions is what freedom is all about... liberals rant all day about the "choice" to have an abortion and unrestrained "freedom" among other issues, but in the same breath say the government should tell us how to spend our money, where to go to school, what we will learn there and what websites we look at on our own time. It's enough to drive anyone up the wall.

The Game said...

I have to agree with mike,
it just makes common sense.

Jim, I'm being civil here, but you always say that I simply read the GOP talking points, but these two issues I think are just common sense. The only way person accounts would fail is if the entire stock market crashed, and then we are all screwed.

And with the global warming thing, it only seems like Lefties care about it, and it seems they are using it to attack US buisnesses and the President

Jim said...

My brother became totally disabled from a disease at the age of 24. He had worked and paid into SS. He has not been able to work since then, but he receives SS in order to manage. Social Security is a safety net.

I had a friend who was killed in a car accident when he was 30. His wife receives SS and kids will receive SS payments until they are 18. In essence, his wife and kids have "inherited" his SS "assets". If he had had only nine years to build his personal account "estate" how much money would he have built up to support his wife and kids for the next 15 years? Social Security is a safety net.

Social Security is a safety net. It was and always has been meant to supplement other retirement plans. It is meant to assist dependents of those who die or become disabled during their earning years. It is meant to provide a minimum level of subsistance for retirees who for whatever reason may have inadequate retirement income resources otherwise. It is an insurance policy. It insures that members of our society who have paid into the system are not left to live on the streets if their dads die, if they become disabled, or if (God forbid) their retirement was wrapped up in a company like Enron.

Social Security is a safety net. As such, it has been one of the most successful government programs of all time.

The Game said...

its also going to become bankrupt for the reasons mike stated

Jason H. Bowden said...

Social security, if anything, is *not* an insurance policy. Social Security is more like the scheme of Charles Ponzi, who in the 1920s collected money from "investors" to whom he paid out large "profits" from the proceeds of later investors. The scheme inevitably collapsed when there were not enough new entrants to pay earlier ones.

I'd rather invest money elsewhere and not pay into social security, but as the socialists on the left say, Compulsion is Voluntary.

Jim said...

Mike stated no valid reasons why Social Security will go bankrupt. Social Security will only go bankrupt if Bush spends SO MUCH money that his only option is to default on US Treasuries.

Did you notice that Treasury Secretary Snow and the White House are trying to sneak legislation quietly in Congress to raise the national debt limit another nearly TRILLION (with a T) dollars, up to $9 Trillion?

So much for conservative values! What a joke.

The Game said...

Many Jim, you are so pathetic. Everything revolves around your hate for Bush. You have really lost it today. Mike is right, there is no money saved for SS, its all IOU's.

Therefore, when there are not enough people putting in for all that are taking out....there will not be enough money...very simple concept...but if you are so filled with hate and rage for Bush you might not be able to see that...

Why does the right get labeled the hate group when most liberals eventually resort to emotion filled rage in any debate?

Mike M said...

I didn't state ANY reasons (valid or otherwise) why SS will go bankrupt, merely pointed out that there isn't any money being saved for the purpose.

Yes, it will go bankrupt if nothing changes, but the actual reason for that will be that the SS tax rate will generate less revenue than the program can pay out. Since all excess revenue is being spent as it's collected and replaced with IOU's, when the break-even point passes, that is by definition "out of money" when expense > income with zero savings.

Now this would be simple enough to band-aid fix by allowing SS to be funded from other existing sources of revenue, but those are already being spent too... so... yeah. Bankrupt is a good way to think about it.

What's your solution? Interestingly, the Fair Tax proposal is also a savior of SS (at least in one sense) by funding SS from general revenue, and not from a dedicated SS tax. This isn't an actual change to the SS program, only a change to the way it's funded. The program still sucks, but the Fair Tax would keep it alive 'till people figured out it's not working as well as it did 50 years ago.

Jim said...

It's illuminating how you turn every logical argument I make or fact that I site into some supposed "hatred" of George W. Bush. It exposes a lack of a grasp of reality.

Do you know the difference between an IOU from your deadbeat brother in law and an IOU in the form of a US Treasury Bill? Are you willing to simply blow off the $1.7 TRILLION Social Security trust fund? Some of that is YOUR money you know.

Are you going to give up that money for your idolatry of this man?

Mike M said...

Jim, this has absolutely nothing to do with Bush. He didn't create the SS mess, and it doesn't look like he's going to be the one to fix it, either. The thing that distinguishes thinking people from mindless drivel is the ability to analyze a situation, look at the facts, and decide what is correct and what is not independent of what ELSE is correct or not. Same thing for good ideas and bad ideas; ideas that work and ideas that don't.

I am no fan of Bush's spending habits. The Federal government has grown faster and bigger under his admin than at any other time in history. This is a bad thing. But do remember that it's Congress that spends money, the President merely fails to veto it.

His proposal to reform Social Security is a good thing, and the validity of that proposal ultimately has little to do with out of control spending.

Try and isolate individual issues and you'll get more done. If your whole attitude is "Bush and all Republicans are nothing but evil hatemongers" or "Everything Bush touches turns to gold" (both attitudes are mind-numbingly ignorant) then you're not going to get anything useful done, you're just going to join the ranks of the whiners on both sides who think it's their lot in life to complain about everything because it somehow makes them feel good for "standing up" or whatever.

Jim said...

Mike, I don't know what you are reading, but I have isolated one issue on this entire post with a brief interlude on Global Warming introduced by Game. If you like, you can read it from the top.

I have given you numbers, I have given you facts, I have given you the address of the Social Security Administration website which will verify pretty much EVERYTHING I have posted here.

You "refute" this rational argument which is backed up by facts with the debating point that I hate Bush. Yet nowhere on this post have I said anything which could by any reasonable measure be construed as me hating Bush. I simply suggested that I was suspicious that he would call $1.7 trillion of yours and my and Game's money as worthless.

You complain about Bush's spending or allowing the Republic-controlled Congress to spend, but apparently ignore that fact that this Congress and president has spent our 1.7 Trillion dollars, does not count that as part of the National Debt, and is about to increase the debt ceiling to $9 Trillion. go partial private, the government will have to borrow serveral TRILLION MORE DOLLARS to fund the private accounts adding TRILLIONS more dollars to the national debt that your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be paying for decades.

These are numbers, dollars, and facts. They are not hate.

Refute them if you can, but don't turn the debate to false claims that I hate Bush. It's a weak ploy.

Mike M said...

I never said you hate Bush, I said Bush has nothing to do with it. You were the one who commented, "Are you going to give up that money for your idolatry of this man?" And I made the point that hatred or worship of Bush is irrelevant to the SS discussion AND the global warming discussion.

Nobody will have to borrow anything to "fund" private accounts, the money is already coming from workers' paychecks. The difference would be that the money would go into an account with a person's name on it instead of into general revenue. I ask you this, if it really is a loss for the government, what would happen when SS revenues match spending eventually anyway? All that excess revenue that you claim would have to be borrowed today, wouldn't be available then, so more money would still have to be borrowed for whatever the money's currently being spent on. Money doesn't just appear, it comes from taxes. So I ask you again...what's your solution? And No, complaining about the current system or administration is not a solution, nor is telling us we're delusional.

What am I ignoring? What's this about 1.7 trillion? Was that not my whole point? That this money has been spent, and is not being saved to fund future SS payments? Who cares if it's "counted" in the national debt? No matter what you call it, it's money that isn't there now, and still won't be there in thirty years without some serious reform.

The Game said...

bravo Mike

Jim said...

As I'm sure you know, Mike, Social Security is currently a "pay as you go" system. Taxes are collected, payouts are made, excess goes into the trust fund to be saved until needed beginning in 2014.

If you take half of the annual taxes collected and put it into private accounts, you are reducing the money for current payouts by half and you are putting no money in the trust fund. So to meet the need for current payouts, you will have to borrow money to make up the difference. That is going to quickly add up to serious money.

Do you own any T-Bills? Invest any of your retirement in Treasuries? Corporate bonds, municipals? If so, you've loaned money to the government or to a corporation. When you lend it to them, they spend it. The money you put into T-bills, the money your parents put into T-bills for your kids HAS BEEN SPENT, as you say.

Do you NOT expect to get any of that money back? It's been spent, hasn't it? Why would you put your money into it if you didn't expect to get it back?

Anybody paying Social Security since 1983 has been paying part of their tax into the Trust Fund which has been specifically set aside to be used when annual taxes will not cover annual payments. I don't know how old you are, but I'm assuming you have been paying Social Security for several years and that means some of YOUR money has been set aside in this trust fund to be paid out TO YOU when you collect Social Security after 2014.

The Trust Fund is currently $1.7 trillion dollars. Part of it is YOURS. Read the SSA website and it will tell you everything I've just told you.

If you are willing to walk away from your share of that $1.7 trillion dollars, more power to you. I'm not.

What's my solution? Simple: raise the SS cap above the current $90,000 level.

Jason H. Bowden said...

Jim --

At least you're honest about raising taxes.

People deserve the option to buy real social insurance instead of being forced into a government Ponzi scheme. People aren't buying anything "insurance" related with social security; we're stealing from Paul to pay Peter. This may be justified when it comes to widows or the disabled, but it isn't when it comes to helping a selfish babyboomer retire in the Bahamas.

Mike M said...

Honestly, no, I don't expect to recieve a dime of my SS taxes. There is no reason to rely on the government and SS. There's nothing guaranteed about the program. Congress can disband or change the program at will, and nobody has ANY rights to that money in principle, only as far as the existing law, which can be changed at any time by I believe a simple majority in Congress (or maybe 2/3). That would not be the case with personal accounts, because they would be the property of the bearer.

Loaning money to the government or a corporation is nothing new. But all loans assume some risk.

You are quite right that when money is loaned to a corporation or the government, that money is then spent. The difference between corporations and the government is that corporations use that money to make more money, and the government uses that money on programs, be it vote-buying for politicians or public services such as military protection and the post office. There are two ways governments raise revenue: taxes and borrowing (selling bonds, for instance). To re-pay outstanding debts, the money must come from one of these sources. The SS "Trust fund" is no exception. There isn't any actual money in it, because if there was it would be called a bank account or something similar. Therefore, to draw from this fund, existing revenue must be diverted to cover it, or revenue must be increased.

The beauty of the President's proposal is that it would, by leaving the program intact for those over 55, at some point stop the growth of the spending, while allowing a progressively higher percentage of workers' SS payments to be diverted into personal accounts that Congress can't spend. This system would gradually phase out the "pay as you go" way of doing things, thus eliminating the problem we are now faced with. Nowhere in the proposal is "half" of existing contributions to be put into accounts, at least not initially. Last time I saw, it was somewhere in the ballpark of 10%... or was it 1.5% ? either way, it's ridiculously low, but a step in the right direction.

Merely raising the cap at which income can be taxed will only delay the inevitable. Do you have an actual solution that will eliminate the problem?

Jim said...

Raising the SS cap a reasonable amount can eliminate the "inevitable" and solve the problem. It can make SS "solvent" for 75 years or more which is farther out than SS has ever projected.

If you divert ANY MONEY from the current payouts or the payouts of those 55 and older, you will have to borrow it from somewhere.

Read some facts. I dare you:

Economic Policy Institute

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The following Republic proposals would add the corresponding amount to the national debt by 2050:

Presidents plan: $17.7 trillion

Robert Pozen plan: $3.5 trillion

Lindsay Graham plan: $19.1 trillion

Chuck Hagel plan: $24.2 trillion

Sununu and Ryan plan: $85.8 trillion

Private or personal accounts do nothing for the solvency of SS. They worsen the situation greatly.

Mike M said...

All of those references you cited are second or third hand analysis and commentary, but I'll get back to you.

In the meantime, let's be clear: I wouldn't lose any sleep if SS, Medicaid, Food Stamps and Child Nutrition (free breakfast for kids of parents too lazy to buy some cereal) were to disappear. Tomorrow would not be too soon. Just think of how much more Grandma would love you if you helped her yourself instead of sent the Government to do it for you!

Jim said...

Mike, you are incredibly elitist. Anybody who doesn't make enough money to get by, anybody who is struggling for reasons you can never fathom, IS LAZY? And I suppose you CALL yourself a Christian. Are these the VALUES of the Republic party? I didn't send the government to care for my grandparents. They paid into Social Security and got what was promised them to supplement the savings they managed to set aside.

Second or third party analysis and comment? What a cop out! What Baloney! cites the Social Security Administration's own website and the Congressional Budget Office. It also cites administration numbers which admit to $754 billion in borrowings through 2015 to fund private accounts.

The Economic Policy Institute cites the SSA website, the Congressional Budget Office AND the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security in its analysis.

The CBPP analysis is done by two economics experts with years of service in the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accounting Office, and the House Budget Committee.

What are YOUR sources?