Hands in the cookie jar

By Rod D. Martin
web posted August 30, 1999

That Bill Clinton lies -- even about something as important as Social Security -- is certainly not news.

But that Bill Clinton is willing to throw away one of the Democrat Party's core constituencies just fourteen months before a visibly weakening Al Gore goes to the polls ought to give his supporters pause. And yet quite the opposite seems to be true.

The battleground? A Republican plan to designate every last penny of the Social Security surplus for -- gasp! -- the Social Security program. Called the Social Security "Lock Box," this plan has garnered widespread support for the simple reason that it does what Democrats have always promised and never delivered: it requires, by law, that your retirement savings be spent not on crucifixes in urine or midnight basketball but, of all things, your retirement.

The Lock Box could be called a reform long overdue. But that would be an understatement bordering on the ludicrous. The Lock Box is nothing more or less than a first step toward ending legalized theft. Sound like hyperbole? Ask your pension fund manager what would happen if he spent your savings the way Congress does. Leavenworth is full of that sort of folk.

People believe there is a Social Security "Trust Fund," but that is a lie. From the very inception of the program, Democrat Congresses and Presidents have freely spent your retirement money on any other program they dreamed up. It was less of a trust fund than a piggy bank, a giant cookie jar filled to overflowing with money for social workers and foreign aid and other sorts of liberal "compassion."

Why won't the Democrats allow you to control how your retirement savings is invested? Simple: they've spent it all on the "Piss Christ" and a thousand other things. No wonder the return on Social Security is so dismal. No wonder they want to raise Medicare premiums too.

But truth has caught up with the Democrats. More and more Americans, realizing that much of the new government surplus is in fact their retirement savings, have been shocked to watch as Clinton and Congressional Democrats propose to use that money for almost a trillion dollars in new spending, all the while trumpeting their desire to "save" Social Security. This is clearly a case where everything depends on what your definition of "save" is, and Americans aren't buying.

So Republicans proposed the Lock Box: simple, to the point, honest. And the trouble began.

At first, the President endorsed the idea. Everything looked great; reform had come. But then, Congressional Republicans put the plan to a vote. And another vote. And another vote.

Six times, Senate Democrats blocked the Lock Box plan with a filibuster. Six times, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle refused to allow a cloture vote -- the 60 votes necessary to stop the filibuster -- to pass. Six times, Senate Democrats voted to continue raiding your cookie jar.

If Bill Clinton really supported the Lock Box, one call to Tom Daschle would end the debate. But Clinton can't afford to let Republicans win. And Daschle can't afford to lose the granddaddy of all cash cows for his socialist, big government dreams.

All of this just goes to show why government has no business controlling your retirement savings. It's your money: you should say where it goes. The overwhelming success of 401(k)s, IRAs, and a host of other modern retirement devices shows the way. The fact that private retirement systems in Britain, Australia, and even third-world Chile work better and pay more than Social Security -- here, in the richest nation on Earth -- tells the story.

But even if consumer choice paid out less than the current system (and the most cautious estimates show it would actually pay the average retiree as much as four or five times more), the fact that government routinely robs you blind -- and gets away with it -- ought to tell you where your money should be. You and your banker, broker or mattress can be trusted. Daschle and Clinton can't.

Call Senator Daschle. Tell him you want your Social Security money locked away, not wasted by politicians and bureaucrats. His number is (202) 224-2321. He'll just love to take your call.

But in the end, the lesson is clear. Personal victory is all that's ever mattered to Clinton, at the expense of family, party, or even country. Likewise, socialist ideological purity is all that matters to the Gore and Daschle Democrats. Your money -- your future -- means nothing. Their actions speak louder than all the words at a Democrat Convention. Seniors won't forget come next November.

Rod D. Martin is a Little Rock, Arkansas attorney, and a fellow of the Kuyper Institute for Political Studies. His Congressional exploratory committee may be found on the web at http://www.theVanguard.org/RMCEC




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