Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Friday, February 04, 2005

My E-Mail to Senator Murray

Social Security

I noticed you added a news release on your website that says you vow to fight to preserve social security. Thank you for your courage and support on this important issue.

There is so much disinformation and spin going on with this issue that it is hard to understand what is being proposed. Anything you can do to bring clarity to what the administration is really trying to do to us will be appreciated.

For example, the administration is now quietly contradicting what President Bush said in the State of the Union speach about the money cannot be taken away by the government and can be bequeathed. Others in the Administration say that the guaranteed benefits are reduced one for one for every dollar we put away, compounded at 3% per year until we retire. The more we divert to our private account, the more our guaranteed benefits are reduced.

If I set aside $1,000 a year for 40 years, and earn 4 percent annually on investments, the account would grow to $99,800 in today's dollars. President Bush says that all of that money would be the mine upon retirement. But he failed to mention that the guaranteed benefits over my lifetime would be reduced by approximately $78,700 -- the amount I would have contributed to Social Security but instead contributed to his private account, plus 3 percent interest above inflation. The remainder, $21,100, would be the only increase in the benefit I would receive over my lifetime above the level I would have received if I stayed in the traditional system.

This is not entirely an issue of semantics -- we are being mislead and we need a strong voice to clearly tell the American public what is being proposed.

Also, The Social Security Trust Fund now has accumulated roughly $1.8 trillion worth of US Treasury bonds. That total debt of the United States government is, if memory serves, just over $7 trillion. US Treasury bonds are owned by Americans, foreigners, individuals, pension funds, everybody under the sun. Most of the president's personal wealth appears to be tied up in them. They're universally considered to be the safest investment in the world. George W. Bush is the President of the United States. So the question is to him. Are the Treasury notes in the Social Security Trust Fund backed by the full faith and credit of the United States every bit as much as the bonds everyone else owns?

Everything the president is saying implies that they are not, that there is a very big question about whether those notes can or will ever be redeemed. So if they're not, the president should say so now. Please confront him on his statements of the Social security system being "Bankrupt" in 2018. Those statements imply that the T Bonds are not assets of the Social Security system.

If the system needs tweaking, lets talk about means testing and premium increases. Let's not let him put our basic minimum safety net at risk for a scheme that will line the pockets of Wall Street while making our most vunerable take all the risks. We're not taking anything away from the privledged, they still have their IRA's, 401K's, and 457's.

Thanks again for your support.
Jane Johnson
PCO Bigelow 107


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