The WaPo published the results of a poll it did on the American people's relative knowledge of Bush's Social Security "reform" agenda and found most aren't for it and they don't believe there is a real crisis.
Interestingly, most didn't want their taxes raised to pay for any shortfall but 81% did want those making over $90,000 (currently exempt) to pay.
There was a lot of ignorance about some things that I'm sure Bush will try to exploit. Fortunately, most of those polled showed good old American commonsense when they knew the facts.
"...Jerry Traylor, 58, a retired government worker who lives in Newell, Ala., said he supports Bush's proposal for personal accounts, asserting that "a person would have more interest in their own money and their future in retirement if they could invest in stocks...like nearly half of those surveyed, Traylor wrongly believed that the costs of creating personal accounts would be negligible.
Told that the Bush administration estimates the government initially would have to borrow more than $700 billion to set up such a system, he was incredulous.
"That seems very excessive," Traylor said. "I would be less inclined to favor it if it costs that much. That much money could serve a lot of good purposes."
That cost estimate proved to be the most effective of four arguments against Bush's proposal tested in the polls.
While 56 percent said they support a plan for individual investment accounts, more than half of those said they would be less likely to do so after hearing the estimate.
More than four in 10 supporters wavered when they heard that personal accounts would not, by themselves, reduce the financial problems facing Social Security."
People seemed a little confused over the idea of Bush's plan of linking benefits to the cost of living as opposed to the current structure of estimating benefits to wages.
"...about seven in 10 Americans believe that the cost of living has been rising faster than wages over the past 20 years, although the reverse is true.
This belief probably shapes policy preferences: The same percentage wants to peg initial Social Security benefits to the cost of living, as Bush reportedly wants, instead of the current formula, which pegs them to wage increases. That change would result in significantly lower guaranteed benefits for future generations, according to both supporters and opponents."
Medicare Drug Benefit Scam.
Of course, the real crisis we're facing is Medicare, which Bush naturally is ignoring, because it is a mess of his own making.
The White House released budget figures yesterday indicating that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003.
As recently as September, Medicare chief Mark B. McClellan said the new drug package would cost $534 billion over 10 years. Last night, he acknowledged that the cumulative cost of the program between 2006 and 2015 will reach $1.2 trillion,
It also showed that Medicare, the national medical insurance program for seniors, may pose a far more serious budgetary problem in the com- ing decade than concerns about the solvency of Social Security.
At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) taunted Treasury Secretary John W. Snow about the rhetorical discrepancies.
"If you're looking for a crisis, I would suggest you look at a crisis that was self-made in just last year, because the crisis exists in what's happened to Medicare by weighing it down," Emanuel said. "Those of us who told you it was going to cost twice as much were right."
Remember all the lying and arm twisting to get this bill pasted? Here's an oldie but goodie from buzzflash:
"Administrator Thomas Scully pressured the agency's chief actuary, Richard Foster, to withhold cost estimates of the Medicare Prescription Drug bill when it was being considered by Congress last year.
Foster had claimed that Scully ordered him to withhold estimates that showed the bill would cost between $500-$600 billion, well above the $395 billion estimate on which members of Congress were set to base their vote.
Specifically, Foster's estimates were anywhere from 25 to 50% higher than those provided to members of Congress, and showed that rather than helping seniors lower prescription costs, the bill would be a windfall for drug companies, HMOs and insurance companies.
Bush knew about Foster's higher projections. On March 20, 2004, The Washington Post reported that, Trent Duffy, a Bush spokesman, acknowledged that the actuary's cost estimates had been sent to White House officials, including Doug Badger, a special assistant to President Bush who negotiated with Congress on the Medicare bill.
The key to the success of Medicare scam was to hide Foster's estimates from members of Congress until after they voted to pass the bill, and the strategy worked.
If revealed, Foster's figures definitely would have threatened the passage of the bill because 13 Republicans had vowed to vote against it if the cost went over $400 billion."
Of course, the passage of the bill was a close thing until Tom DeLay started playing fast and loose with the rules. He held up the usual fifteen minute voting period for three hours to bribe and threaten to get enough votes.
See an excellent website on all these issues.
More dirt on DeLay.
One more thing, we all know Bush wants to hear everybody's ideas on what to do about Social Security but...
From Ventura County foe democracy::
"City Commissioner Linda Coates says she was shocked to learn she and her husband were among more than 40 area residents on a list of people barred from attending President Bush's speech here [Fargo N.D.] Thursday.
The list was supplied to workers at the two Fargo distribution sites, along with tickets and other forms citizens were asked to fill out, The Forum reported.
The list includes critics of Bush or the war in Iraq. It includes two high school students, a librarian, a deputy Democratic campaign manager and a number of university professors."
I also hear it included folks who had written letters to the editor against Bush. That's pretty scary.
Speaking of scary, how about North Korea?
TOKYO Feb. 10 -- North Korea on Thursday declared itself a de facto nuclear power, claiming in its strongest terms to date that it had "manufactured nuclear weapons" to defend itself from the United States and saying it would withdraw indefinitely from international disarmament talks.
"In response to the Bush administration's increasingly hostile policy toward North Korea, we . . . have manufactured nuclear weapons for self-defense," the government said in an official statement through its Korean Central News Agency."
Naturally, they aren't anywhere near the threat Iran is to us, right? Or was that Israel?
The U.S. is pushing the tale that North Korea is exporting nukes, but it seems perhaps Pakistan is the real culpret. Remember A.Q Khan, the father of the Pakistani bomb? Why won't our freedom loving friend and partner in the war on terrorism, Pervaz Musharrif, let us talk to him?
The WaPo writes:
"The Bush administration's claim this week that North Korea appears to have been the supplier of converted uranium to Libya is based on evidence that could just as easily point to Pakistan, a key U.S. ally, as the source, according to analysts and officials familiar with the data.
Two senior staff members on the National Security Council have toured China, Japan and South Korea in recent days to brief top officials that U.S. scientific tests strongly suggest North Korea provided Libya with uranium hexafluoride gas, which can be processed into material for a nuclear weapon."
Strangely enough other country's aren't taking our word for it this time. Wonder why?
"China and South Korea, in particular, have been skeptical of administration assertions that North Korea has a clandestine uranium-enrichment program. Michael J. Green, the NSC's senior director for Asian affairs, brought a handwritten message from President Bush for South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun, according to reports in Seoul.
The questions raised yesterday about the administration's evidence are significant in light of the controversy over the administration's allegations -- later disproved -- that Iraq had illicit arms. Several experts said the administration has to be careful in making its case to allies, given resulting skepticism."
But, we digress, its all about Iran.
The U.S. is updating its attack plans for Iran. It only routine though. Really!
We are in that process, that normal process, of updating our war plans," said Lt. Gen. Lance Smith, deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. forces across the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of North Africa.
"We try to keep them current, particularly if . . . our region is active," he said in response to reporters' questions at a Pentagon news conference.
The time for diplomacy is now?
Earlier yesterday, Rice told reporters in Brussels that the United States and its European allies have made their nonproliferation demands clear but have set "no deadline" for action by Tehran.
"The Iranians know what they need to do. They shouldn't be permitted, under cover of civilian nuclear power . . . to try to build a nuclear weapon," she said.
At the White House, President Bush emphasized that the United States and Europe will "speak with one voice" in pressuring Iran. "The Iranians just need to know that the free world is working together to send a very clear message: . . . Don't develop a nuclear weapon," he said yesterday at an Oval Office appearance with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
Bush said he was "pleased" with the responses European leaders gave Rice in discussions on Iran.
This news just in, the fix is in:
The Senate votes to screw the American people and helps big business out of its "junk lawsuit" problem.
...The bill passed by the Senate this afternoon would give the federal courts the authority to hear class-action suits in which the money at issue is more than $5 million and at least one member of the "class" is from a state different from the defendant.
Business groups that support the bill contend it will help stamp out suits that enrich lawyers at the expense of businesses and ordinary people. The bill's supporters say many plaintiffs' lawyers in class actions "shop around" among various state courts to find a friendly venue.
Critics of the bill have said it will deprive civil rights groups, consumers and labor organizations of a valuable weapon, and that it will help big companies escape financial consequences for their wrongdoing.
President Bush said repeatedly during the 2004 campaign that too many "frivolous lawsuits" were shackling American business and driving good doctors out of their practices."