A 9-year-old shills for Social Security privatization
By Jerry Mazza
Journal Contributing Writer
Mar 5, 2005, 21:21
Step right up, it�s the greatest carnival on earth. As
reported originally in The New
York Times, and carried as far as the China
Daily, 9-year-old Noah (ain�t he cute)? McCullough of Texas has agreed to
shill (stump) for George W. Bush�s Social Security privatization proposal.
It�s not quite a meeting of the minds. Noah has an
"encyclopedic command of presidential history," which earned him five
appearances on that noted political forum, the "Tonight" show, and
some off-beat experiences in the presidential campaign last year. Bush weighs
in with a sub-par 91 IQ, but does actually act like a 9-year old when he can�t
get his way.
That is, he keeps pushing privatization, despite the fact
that he knows it will do absolutely nothing to improve Social Security today or
in the future. What Bush needs to do is simply raise or eliminate the taxable
income cap of $90,000, or raise somewhat the tax that workers pay, as Reagan
did in the 1980s, to increase revenue streams. Believe me, it ain�t rocket
science. And we really don�t need either boy wonder to sell privatization to
us. Because the big P will cost $4.6 trillion (which will have to be borrowed)
in the next two decades to set up 155 million accounts in all, plus play Wall
Street handling fees of $60-$90 billion dollars a year. That ain�t rocket
science either, but simple arithmetic.
I mean I know Noah beat Howard Dean in a trivia contest at
the Democratic National Convention and wrote eloquently for his local newspaper
about his trip to see the inauguration. But privatization and Social Security
aren�t trivia. And I wonder if Noah mentioned in his news story that 50,000
cops were brought in to wall and haul away inauguration protestors if they got
near Junior. Or the fact that Junior was afraid to get out of his car and walk
among the people until he hit the gated compound surrounding the podium. I�d
love Noah�s take on that. The funny thing is Noah�s mother, Donna McCullough,
is a former teacher and claims she�s a Democrat. And the kid shills for Bush.
Wow. How about a trip to the Jackson ranch?
Now I assume if Noah�s a volunteer spokesman on Social
Security, he�s got all the numbers on it. Like the 47 million Americans who
receive it. And how for two-thirds of the elderly, SS is the major source of
income. For the remaining one-third, it is their only source of income. In
fact, more than 9 in 10 retirees now get Social Security benefit payments each
Also, Social Security also goes to kids who never get a
chance to go to work because they are seriously disabled. It goes, too, to the
children of a disabled or non-disabled parent(s) receiving Social Security.
Also benefits go to widows or widowers of passed on recipients so the former
can get through life. See this is real help for real people in real life. It�s
not a game show on TV, Noah. And George, it�s not a my-will-is-stronger-than-your-will
thing. It�s a survival thing for millions of seniors and their family members.
Get that through your aspartame-riddled brain.
See Noah, Social Security provides guaranteed benefits based
on what the worker paid in: taxes of 6.2 percent on lifetime income, another
6.2 percent matched by employers. Right now, recipients receive benefits that
are pegged to the growth in wages while they�re in the work place. The White
House would like to change all that and peg benefits instead to inflation, which
grows at a slower rate than salaries do. The effect on retirees would be that
their SS benefits would no longer keep pace with living standards. It would
mean Social Security would more and more replace less and less of one�s
previous wages once you retired. That current wage replacement rate is now
about 33�35 percent. It would fall to 20 percent for young workers and keep
falling under this privatization plan.
In fact, all the real action in terms of lowering the Social
Security deficit comes from changing how benefits are computed. It doesn�t have
anything to do with individual accounts. So the government can reasonably raise
taxes or caps or cut benefits and make relatively painless adjustments. Or the
government can unreasonably go and borrow trillions of dollars for private
accounts, which won�t improve Social Security one whit, but will only siphon
off money from the Social Security Trust Fund and put it into the pockets of
Wall Street profiteers.
Consider also that Social Security like few things in our
government works efficiently. Administrative costs run just about 0.6 cents of
each buck paid out in benefits. The English system of private accounts gulps 15
cents on every buck of benefits. And believe it or not, in this age of Enron,
Bush�s favorite charity, Social Security has a minimum of fraud and/or abuse as
government audits have repeatedly shown. Are you listening ,Noah, George, Karl,
Then too, just three-quarters of Social Security�s income
pay for all the benefits presently. The other quarter goes into the Social
Security Trust Fund, where it gathers interest from Treasury Bonds. Now by
2016, given the sagging economy, outsourcing jobs, corporations turning
full-time employees into part-time employees, the number of people paying into
Social Security will be decreasing as the recipients are increasing. If we had
a thriving economy, not an enormous deficit economy, a job-building not a
job-destroying economy, an economy prepared to eliminate tax cuts for the rich,
not make them a $10-trillion permanent entitlement, the Social Security income
stream would greatly improve. But even if the above doesn�t happen, Social
Security can pay out until 2042.
Actually, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office did
an independent investigation of Social Security�s finances and came up with an
even brighter picture. They found that it could pay all benefits through the
year 2052 with no changes whatsoever. Furthermore, according to both sets of
projections, the changes required to keep the program solvent through its
entire 75-year planning period are smaller than the changes made in any of the
decades from the 1950s to the 1980s. So what�s the problem here, Noah?
Well, the big problem Social Security faces is redeeming the
$1.67 trillion of government securities in the Social Security and Disability
Trust Funds when they may be needed
to pay benefits. That Social Security
money was spent by politicians like Mr. Bush, his dad, and President Reagan on other government programs. And that
includes those gluttonous tax cuts for the rich in the past four years. But the
truth is, Noah, your pal Junior and his friends are trying to claim that money
isn�t there. See the money can�t "not be there," because the Social
Security Trust is holding U.S. Treasury Bonds for the money borrowed from it.
And by law, they have to be honored, not blown away as empty IOUs. Just like
Japan�s $750 billion in Treasury Bonds or China�s $450 billion in Treasury
Bonds, and everybody else�s UST Bonds have to be paid. The SS Trust�s bonds
must be paid. Period, no questions, no razzle-dazzle needed.
What�s more, that naughty Junior spent every dollar of
surplus income that came into the Social Security Trust during his first
four-year reign. Yup, that's $500 billion dollars. Bad boy! The only other
president to burn up every dollar of surplus SS Trust income during his
administration was, guess who?�you�re a trivia nut. It was Junior�s papa,
George H. W. Bush. Wanna guess his IQ, Noah? Ninety-eight. You see a trend
Also, here�s the thing about privatization, aside from the
cost to taxpayers to set it up. If you put a piece of your payroll taxes in a
personal account, your future benefits
will be reduced by an amount equal to the amount you would have to pay back if
you had borrowed the money at a real interest rate of 3 percent. Wrap your
young mind around that. This is just fancy language for privatization being a
loan. According to an administration spokesperson, you have to "borrow,
speculate and hope." That�s not security. In fact, you�re paying back in
benefits whatever you make in the market. And then you will be asked to buy an
annuity, to guarantee your income won�t sink below the poverty level. That�s
not security either, Noah. I hope your mom reads this and helps you understand.
Even a whiz kid like you should know what he�s selling, up front, as the adults
Now I also know that
Progress for America (PFA), the lobbying group for Junior, which spent $45
million backing him last year, plans to dump another $20 million on Social
Security disinformation this year. It�s blown $1 million on TV spots so far and
is working to send disinformation experts around the country. Like Thomas
Saving, a trustee of the Social Security Trust Fund, Rosario Marin, a former
United States treasurer, both of whom should know better. And then there�s you,
Noah, signed (dare I ask for how much?) to spread the fake word, even though
you won�t be eligible to collect Social Security for nearly 60 years.
You�re going to a bunch of states to soften people up for
the president�s visit to follow. You�ll be on radio, with more liars probably
than you�ll meet in a lifetime. Stay away from Rush Limbaugh. He�s a major
drug-head. I�m surprised your mama would even let you hang out with people like
this. It�s like a lamb fronting for the wolves. I certainly hope you don�t run
into Jeff Gannon, the gay prostitute who was playing reporter in the White
House, and lobbing softball questions to the president, and who has even been
reported to be visiting George�s sleeping quarters. The story has it, well,
it�s not so nice to tell but Gannon�s brought some other gay prostitutes to
visit members of Congress, the White House staff, and even board members of the
Federal Reserve. There is also a story surfacing that talks about GHW Bush�s
involvement with pedophilia prostitution. Noah, frankly, I think these guys are
dangerous, and you should stay far away from them.
If you were my child, and I�ve got three, two grown, one 16,
I wouldn�t bring you within shooting distance of them. I also understand this
trip was the big idea of Stuart Roy, a former aide to Representative Tom DeLay,
(R-Tex.), who just came aboard the DCI Group, a political consultancy in Texas
with ties to guess who: the Republican Party and Junior. This company,
Noah, is up to its ears involved with Progress for America.
PFA�s president, Brian McCabe, is a partner at DCI, and the
old organization has a contract with DCI. In the 2004 campaign, the Progress
for America Voter Fund shelled out about $800,000 to DCI. I guess Mr. Roy knew
you, Noah, because you live in suburban Houston, part of Mr. DeLay�s district.
It�s said you even got to meet the old hammer. According to Roy boy,
"We�ll have Noah there as the face of Social Security reform . . . It�s
about the next generation."
You know what, Noah, they�re lying again. It�s not just
about the next generation. It about folks today, too, and how your grandparents
and older people are going to live when their benefits start getting slashed to
potato peels. As to the next generation, there won�t be any Social Security
left if Junior has his way. Even those pathetic privatization accounts will
probably have gone bust after the Republicans and their friends on Wall Street
have fully looted the system.
Now, I also read that you got interested in presidents as a
5-year old after a kindergarten election. But this isn�t kindergarten and these
guys aren�t even playing by kindergarten election rules, one vote for one
kid. Read up on how they pressured the United States Supreme Court to stop
the 2000 election recount in Florida, or how people were kept from voting, and
how voting machines were tampered with. I know, too, you�ve read
3,000 books on presidential history. Read some more about Franklin Delano
Roosevelt who started this Social Security Program in 1933, in the middle of a
terrible depression brought on by Republicans like Herbert Hoover, who just
stood by as the economy went bankrupt. See, the stock market crashed because
people were buying stock with borrowed money (on margin) sort of like
privatization is urging them to do, and the super rich folks just sat back and
laughed as all the little guys went right down the hole to Wonderland.
But you�re a smart boy, Noah, I daresay a brilliant boy. I
know that after 27 trips to the first Bush presidential library at Texas
A&M University in College Station, you actually had a meeting with the
first President Bush. And now you plan to run for the White House in 2032. And
you want Social Security taken care of, because you want to be president by
then. Well, your friend Junior can save Social Security quite simply as I
outlined in the opening paragraphs. If he goes to privatization, even if only
in a small way, a tiny infinitesimal way, it will be the beginning of the end.
Once his pals get a foot in the door, they�ll jam it open and loot the system
like Ken Lay did Enron.
Social Security�s retirement fund will not only be bankrupt.
The program will be gone altogether, especially if the boys find a way to cheat
the Trust Fund out of its $1.6 trillion debt holdings in Treasury Bonds. So
Noah, dear heart, my advice is, save politics until you get a little older,
wiser, and tougher. Right now stick with trivia on the "Tonight" Show
and enjoy being nine. It�s a great time of life. Trust me, all things will
become clear to you in time, all things. Including who the good guys are and
who the bad guys are.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer who resides in New
York City. Reach him at email@example.com.
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