liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

the siren of social security

Our old friend, Grover Norquist was quoted today by Peter Wallsten and Joel Havemann in an LA Times article, Bush Shifts Pension Stance.

In the article about a recent statement Bush made to the regional press in New Hampshire, Wallsten and Havemann quoted Bush as saying,
"I've been asked this question a lot, and my answer is that I'm interested in good ideas," Bush said, according to the Birmingham (Ala.) News. "The one thing I'm not open-minded about is raising the payroll tax rate, and all the other issues are on the table, and that's important for people to know."

He was drawing a distinction between the amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax and the 12.4% tax rate, paid half by workers and half by employers, which he is opposed to raising.
Then Wallsten and Havemann spelled it out a little more, for those of us Blue staters and other who don't speak Bush,
In telling the regional newspapers that he was open to raising the $90,000 wage cap, Bush appeared to contradict previous statements by him and his staff.
Does he appear to or does he actually contradict himself?

This is where our helpful and informative authors weighed in with Grover Norquist. Who better with whom to raise George W. Bush's apparent self-contradiction than his greatest ideolgical mentor (besides, of course, Jesus and George H.W. Bush, his dad)? The Director of Americans for Tax Reform is known to heavily influence all Bush's economic plans, goals and policies, to much the same extent the Project for a New American Century influences W.'s foreign policy.

Our reporters, Wallsten and Havemann, set up their quotation from Grover Norquist with a reasonable premise.
But Bush's potential embrace of a higher wage cap could anger conservatives who have pushed for private retirement accounts.

Grover Norquist, a leading anti-tax activist and advisor to the White House on Social Security, said he did not believe that Bush would agree to raising the $90,000 cap, despite the apparent shift in his public negotiating position. But he acknowledged that the president's remarks would rattle some conservatives.

"Should it make us nervous when somebody says, 'I would think about cutting off your fingers,' even if you don't think he really would? Yes. It makes one nervous," Norquist said. "I understand that it's his job to say, 'Let's come to the table and have a conversation.' He's counting on the fact that once you get in the room, the American people will demand personal savings accounts, and they will not demand higher taxes."
George Bush will do ANYTHING to get people to support his privatization scheme. That's what he's good at. If you look at George W. Bush's record since he was in the Texas Air National Guard, you will see the record of someone who has never done anything well enough or honestly enough to earn the people's trust.

But, he just keeps going. His Social Security Privatization Tour (also known as the "Bamboozlepalooza"), has been extended to nine, now, from the originally scheduled four states! George is talking, talking, talking his was up and down the whole country, telling the people to get private social security accounts.

True, the other details of his plan are murky, and, as Wallsten and Havemann show, appear to shift from time to time. But anybody who knows George W. Bush knows he's not going to shift at all. That's what Grover Norquist said today, and he knows George W. Bush as well as anybody.

There isn't going to be any tax increase, tax-cut rollback or tax cap rise to pay for the corporatized Social Security accounts George W. Bush is selling to the good people of the United States right now. He's so sure people won't want more taxes that he can appear to entertain the idea, but just long enough to get the needed handful of wavering Democrats to the table.

"This reminds me of an old story," a certain old Republican president used to say.

I wonder what Lincoln would have thought of Bush's proposal, and of Bush himself, for that matter.

But surely both Grover Norquist and Bush are familiar with Homer's description in Book XII of the Odyssey:
First you will come to the Sirens
who enchant all who come near them. If any one unwarily draws in too
close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children
will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and
warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great
heap of dead men's bones lying all around, with the flesh still
rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your
men's ears with wax that none of them may hear...


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