Sunday, February 06, 2005

Looking Glasses

Maybe I don’t need reading glasses just looking glasses, I do know I need new glasses. Looking to see what passes our eyes without upheaval these days, where is the public interest that was so moral on election day?

Bush tells CBC he's 'unfamiliar' with Voting Rights Act

"I don't know anything about the 1965 Voting Rights Act," Jackson recalled the president saying in an interview with the Chicago Defender.

Introduction To Federal Voting Rights Laws
Before the Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965
The Effect of the Voting Rights Act

Nothing Accidental About This Disaster
by David Smith-Ferri
"The story today is going to be very discouraging to the American people. I understand that. We value life. And we weep and mourn when soldiers lose their life. And –– but it is the long-term objective that is vital……." - George Bush, Jan. 26, 2005, referring to the deaths of 36 U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Fixing Social Security
by Bill Onasch
According to President Bush, I am one of those responsible for an enormous crisis. My paltry monthly check weighs like an aircraft carrier anchor around the necks of younger workers. I have become a parasite on those already struggling to feed their families.

Social Security: Long-Term Challenges Warrant Early Action,
by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-05-303T, February 3, 2005

INSTITUTE INDEX ­ Southern Security

Percentage of current Social Security beneficiaries that reside in the South: 33

Of 9 states with the highest percentage of children receiving Social Security benefits, number in the South: 8
Of 11 states with highest percent of elderly poor, number in the South: 8

Year that George W. Bush predicted Social Security would "go broke" when running for Congress in Texas in 1978: 1988

Amount per dollar that goes towards administrative costs under current Social Security system, in cents: 1

Amount per dollar that President Bush says would go towards these costs under his proposal: 5

Average amount that has gone towards administrative costs in other countries that have privatized Social Security: 15

Amount that finance industry stands to gain from privatized retirement accounts, in billions: $940

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Testimony
Statement of Douglas Holtz-Eakin Director
Alternative Perspectives on Social Security
before the Committee on Finance United States Senate
February 2, 2005
[full-text, 9 pages]


Chairman Grassley, Senator Baucus, and Members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Social Security program from three perspectives: economic, budgetary, and programmatic. Those perspectives illuminate some of the policy issues that arise as the United States confronts the aging of its population.
First, Social Security can be viewed through the lens of the economy. Beneficiaries make decisions about when to retire and how much to work before retirement partly on the basis of the amount of taxes they pay and the amount of benefits they expect to receive. Social Security also influences people’’s decisions about how much to save, which plays a role in determining the size not only of their retirement income but also of the nation’s capital stock as a whole. Consequently, Social Security has important implications for aggregate economic performance ­ for the flow of income that the economy will be able to generate and for the total stock of wealth and overall economic resources that will be available in the future. As a result, Social Security can significantly affect the nation’’s standard of living as well as the distribution of income within and among generations.

Second, from a budgetary standpoint, Social Security is the single largest program of the federal government. This fiscal year, outlays for Social Security are expected to top $500 billion and account for 23 percent of total federal spending(excluding interest). Looking farther ahead, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that Social Security outlays will grow from 4.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005 to 6.5 percent in 2050. Although that growth is significant, it pales in comparison with the projected growth of the government’’s two big health programs, Medicare and Medicaid.

Last, Social Security can be analyzed from the perspective of the program itself. The most recent programmatic focus has been on the "sustainability" of the system’s finances. However, several other aspects of the program are also important. Throughout its long history, Social Security has had multiple goals ­some related to redistributing income, others to offsetting lost earnings. In 2004, only about two-thirds of Social Security’s beneficiaries were retired workers; the rest were disabled workers, survivors of deceased workers, and workers’ spouses and minor children. Policymakers will need to decide whether the program’s goals are still appropriate, and if so, how changes to Social Security would aid or hinder the achievement of those goals and affect various types of beneficiaries and taxpayers. Those decisions will also need to take into account the dramatic increase in the elderly population that is expected in coming decades.

My statement examines the prospects for Social Security from each of those three perspectives, in reverse order, beginning at the programmatic level.



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