In these troubled economic times, there’s been a stronger movement towards privatizing Social Security than I can recall seeing before. The most talked about proposal involves people aged 55 and younger being able to invest money instead of being roped into whatever Uncle Sam wants to pay out. Now, there’s legislation making a move towards privatization of social security:
House Republicans on Friday introduced legislation that would allow workers to partially opt out of Social Security immediately, and fully opt out after 15 years.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, and several other Republicans introduced the Savings Account for Every American (SAFE) Act. Under the bill, workers would immediately have 6.2 percent of their wages sent to a “SAFE” account each year.
That would take the place of the 6.2 percent the workers now contributed to Social Security.
Another 6.2% is sent to Social Security by employers. Under the Sessions bill, employers would continue to make this matching contribution to Social Security, but after 15 years, employers could also send that amount to the employee’s SAFE account.
Now, I’m still not thrilled about the idea of taking people’s money “for their own good”, which is all either Social Security or these new proposal really are. However, if it’s going to happen anyways, I’d rather have an opportunity to have some kind of say in the matter and possibly create an even better cushion. Not everyone seems to think that’s such a good idea (predictable):
While there are varying estimates on the unfunded liabilities (financial commitments that Congress has made), USA Today put out a sobering reminder yesterday of just how dire our fiscal solvency is:
The government added $5.3 trillion in new financial obligations in 2010, largely for retirement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. That brings to a record $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for.
This gap between spending commitments and revenue last year equals more than one-third of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Medicare alone took on $1.8 trillion in new liabilities, more than the record deficit prompting heated debate between Congress and the White House over lifting the debt ceiling.
Social Security added $1.4 trillion in obligations, partly reflecting longer life expectancies. Federal and military retirement programs added more to the financial hole, too.
The $61.6 trillion in unfunded obligations amounts to $527,000 per household. That’s more than five times what Americans have borrowed for everything else — mortgages, car loans and other debt. It reflects the challenge as the number of retirees soars over the next 20 years and seniors try to collect on those spending promises.
Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, wrote just last week that platitudes and promises of unicorns aren’t going to get us very far; Congress has to deal with entitlements, not by growing them or pushing growth-slowing taxes, but by repealing and reforming:
We may have our first high-profile primary against an incumbent for next year’s election. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican currently serving in his second term, has indicated that he will run against Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) next year:
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz has told several Utah political insiders that he plans to run against Sen. Orrin Hatch next year, setting up a major intraparty Republican 2012 battle.
All eyes have been on the second-term congressman for months. But five Utah politicos, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Chaffetz has told them directly in recent weeks that he will contend for the Republican nomination.
Chaffetz said Tuesday that he’s not making any official announcement yet, but he is moving toward a Hatch challenge.
“I have an increasing clarity,” Chaffetz said. “Until I walk up to the microphone to make an announcement, it’s not official. But it’s no secret I’ve been thinking about this and I’ve been gravitating in that direction.”
Hatch’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said he has heard that Chaffetz has made some calls to tell people he would get in, but hasn’t heard anything definitive.
While Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who was elected last year with tea party support, has not endorsed Hatch for re-election, the Club for Growth made it very clear yesterday that they would get behind Chaffetz; noting Hatch’s inconsistent record on economic issues:
While Rep. Paul Ryan has seen his star rise and has heard plenty of calls to enter the Republican presidential race, conservatives should look deeper into his record rather than just the last year or so:
The Wisconsin lawmaker is a fierce opponent of Obama administration spending and any suggestion of higher taxes, but he also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which conservatives like to say “bailed out the banks,” the “auto bailout,” No Child Left Behind, the 2006 highway bill (with its “Bridge to Nowhere”) and the prescription drug benefit.
“It’s easy to vote against all of the Obama big spending items, but he voted for all the Bush-era big spending items,” said one conservative who wonders what all the hoopla over Ryan is about.
Ryan also has voted repeatedly against repealing Davis-Bacon, with its “prevailing wage” provision that is strongly supported by organized labor and is heresy to most free-market Republicans.
The article I’ve excerpted also mentions that Ryan’s budget plan has become a rallying cry for Democrats. That’s true, but that’s not the point I want to get across here.
Ryan has done more than just talk about the problems facing the nation, he has stuck his neck out there and presented a budget plan; although it doesn’t go nearly far enough because it doesn’t touch Social Security and defense spending. Yes, he deserves credit for that for offering a solution, but he has voted for many of the big ticket items that have brough us to the point; all of which are not popular with the grassroots and tea party groups.
For all of the talk he has given in the recent year of shrinking government, his past doesn’t match the rhetoric. It’s something to think about before he is canonized as a limited government conservative.
Via an excellent article by Jim Antle at The American Spectator, Charlie Cook, one of the best political analysts in the business, believes that drawing conclusions about next year based on a special election isn’t smart:
The NY-26 race featured a former Buchanan Republican turned Democrat turned Tea Party independent Jack Davis. Davis has spent millions in three recent congressional campaigns. Running on conservative themes, he took 9 percent of the vote this time around.
“If anyone can find a race next year with a similar configuration, be my guest and apply the ‘lessons learned’ from this race to that one,” warned political prognosticator Charlie Cook before the special election. “But implying that the outcome of this race portends anything about any conventional race next year amounts to cheap spin and drive-by ‘analysis’ of the most superficial kind, which is sadly becoming all too prevalent in Washington.”
But, as Antle notes, Republicans still have a Medicare problem; and it’s not going away anytime soon. They waited too long to try to fight against the incredibly false and dishonest picture that Democrats were able to create about Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan leading up to NY-26.
House Republican leaders have scheduled a “clean vote” for next week on increasing the debt ceiling, though it seems that there isn’t enough support to pass it:
The GOP-led House plans to hold a vote next week on a “clean” increase to the debt limit that doesn’t include any spending cuts, in a bid to show President Obama and Democrats that such a measure cannot pass without conditions attached.
The plan by the GOP leadership team is to schedule the vote on the suspension calendar, normally reserved for non-controversial items such as naming post offices, and require a two-thirds vote of the House for passage. Most House bills usually require a simple majority to pass. This legislative route also means no amendments can be offered to bills.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., has garnered the support of 114 other Democrats for a increasing the debt limit with no strings attached, but that would be far short of the votes needed to pass the GOP measure.
Many are scoffing at the idea of this vote, saying that it sends the wrong message to those investing in our debt and to Wall Street. Eh, not really. It does send a message to the White House that Congress cannot keep increasing the nation’s borrowing limit with our curbing our addiction to spending; as Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) noted in his most recent Texas Straight Talk:
As I noted yesterday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Iowa. In his speech - which his team is calling “A Time for Truth,” Pawlenty warned that the mounting debt and liabilities and economic policies of President Barack Obama will lead to troubles that will make our most recent troubles seem like a cakewalk.
Here is some video from the announcement:
Pawlenty made a bold move in his speech by explaining that ethanol subsidies, which are supported by some other candidates for the GOP nomination; including Newt Gingrich, will need to be phased out.
Pawlenty also received praise from Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader and current chairman of FreedomWorks, who was interviewed on CNBC by Joe Kernan about the GOP field:
In a new video from Reason TV, Nick Gillespie interviews Emily Skarbek of the Independent Institute who explains a new website, MyGovCost.org, that shows the user to see their share of the federal budget (you simply enter your education level, age and income). The site also shows what you could earn off the money, if it were not taken from you by force, by using a 6% rate of return:
With conflicting reports claiming where Republicans stand on the budget plan passed last month and rumors of a deal with Obama Administration, Tad DeHaven writes that the GOP shouldn’t be afraid to take on the issue of reckless spending and the debt ceiling, which will be raised in a week or so:
The Obama administration argues that the GOP is playing a dangerous game and has called for a “clean vote” on raising the debt ceiling - i.e., one with no other policy strings attached. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said that failing to increase the ceiling would cause “catastrophic economic consequences that would last for decades.” Austan Goolsbee, the president’s chief economic adviser, warned of “a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.”
That’s heavy stuff, but the administration is just trying to scare the public - and Republicans - into supporting the status quo: a gargantuan federal government that has promised more than it can deliver. This status quo is not sustainable without massive, ruinous tax increases that would put the nation on a course toward economic stagnation or worse.
While Democrats have tried their best to drum up opposition to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, the “Path to Prosperity,” the latest Gallup poll shows that they are losing three out of four voting blocs; including older voters:
Yes, there has been some backlash at Republican townhall meetings as a result of Ryan’s plan, but nothing to the extent we saw last year when Democrats were forcing ObamaCare down our throats.
Overall Americans oppose the plan, though it’s within the margin of error. Perhaps the biggest thing we can take from this is that young voters are idiots. They have the most to lose from doing nothing or talking in platitudes, which is essentially President Barack Obama’s plan, about the entitlements that make up anywhere from $50 trillion to $100 trillion in unfunded liabilties (depending on whose estimates you’re reading). The fixes that have been proposed by Democrats and the Obama Administration only put a bandaid on a gunshot wound.
Young voters are either ignorant or they don’t care, and their complacency is dragging the country down.