This next story, this AP story, I think it’s passed off as a news story but I dare say this is a commentary. Listen to the first paragraph. “Increasing Social Security taxes for the wealthiest Americans could raise more than $100 billion a year, enough to shore up the retirement system’s finances for 75 years, pay for President Bush’s plan or private accounts or part of each.” Says who? Who’s saying this? I can’t find anybody in the story that’s saying this, other than the reporter babe, whose name is Laura Meckler. “As it is, only the first $90,000 of a worker’s wages are subject to the tax, but Bush says he’s willing to consider changing that.” Yeah, he said that. By the way, there’s a couple stories out there and I want to admonish some of you people. A couple stories out there saying that Bush has angered the base. “This is the wrong move, start talking about raising taxes to fix Social Security, dadda, dadda, dadda, da. The base is upset. The base is mad.” I thought that I explained this to you people yesterday, so let me try this again. The president didn’t propose anything. He says he’s not “ruling it out.” The key here, folks — there are two keys. Well, there’s actually more than two. The Democrats, for all their bluster, don’t have a plan. They’re out there saying, “It’s not a crisis.” They’re out there saying, “Nothing needs to be done.”
The president is demanding, “Okay, if you guys are going to say this won’t work, what’s your plan?” The president challenged the Democrats to offer their ideas on Social Security, and they’re sitting around saying they want Bush’s proposal first and then they want to borrow parts of what Bush says and try to co-opt it or massage it in such a way to make it unique to them. They don’t have a plan. This business of raising, of “not ruling it out.” Keep in mind what one of the objectives here is, and that is the destruction of the Democratic Party. Now, as I said yesterday: The Democrats, when somebody even hints, breathes, when somebody imagines tax increases, the Democrats’ telepathy goes into full reception mode and they go orgasmic. They love tax increases, folks, like you and I love whatever it is you and I love. They just love them. It is their passion. It’s a defining passion. So this is a rope-a-dope. This is the president smoking them out. They won’t advance any ideas, so he says, “I’m not ruling it out.” Bam! The best thing that can happen is for Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy and so forth to come out for raising taxes. Make them be saying it! Put them on the line. Make the Democrats come out and say, “Hubba, hubba! We’re with you now, Mr. President. You want to raise taxes?” Make them go out there and take a position on this. The president hasn’t said it yet. He said he’s not ruling it out.
Now, the dirty little secret that’s left out of this story is that the Social Security Administration says that you’ll only get six years more time if you raise taxes on this, if you raise the ceiling on the salary on which Social Security tax is collected. It’s currently $90,000. If you raise it, you’re only going to get six years more time and that’s it. You’re not going to get 75 years. A hundred billion dollars a year is not going to fix it. The key date — I just want to tell you this — the key date in Social Security is not even the one the president’s mentioning. What did he say, 2042? The key date is 2018, and it’s much closer than 2042, and what’s key about the date of 2018 is when payouts start being greater than what is generated by the Social Security tax system. 2018. So if we raise taxes on the ceiling from 90 grand to whatever, on “the wealthiest Americans,” then 2018 will become 2024 not 2042. So you’re only delaying it by six years. “As it is, beginning as early as 2018, the system is set to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes, and by 2042, the money stored up from past surpluses will be exhausted.” That is such a bogus number because there is no surplus. There is no “lockbox.” There is no “trust fund.” The money gets immediately spent on other items in the budget. 2042, throw it out. The key here is 2018. The president has not said he’s for raising taxes or raising the ceiling on which Social Security taxes are deducted. What the president is trying to do, and this is, I guess — what do we have, the 4th key now?
The 4th key with this move — and this is really important. With this move no longer is the discussion, “We can’t do this.” The discussion is, “How do we do it?” These things move slow. It’s like this tort reform bill that the president signed today. It spent 10 years in the making. Everybody thinks, “Wow, he really got this fast after his election and his state of the union.” No! This has been going on for 10 years, and this is going to take awhile, and you have to move it in stages, and you don’t just say, “I want to change Social Security,” and have everybody say, “Okay, we’re with you. Let’s change it. How are we going to do it?” You got to get to that point, and saying that he’s not ruling out anything? I mean, he’s dealing with Democrats! He’s dealing with who he’s dealing with. He’s dealing with them while trying to destroy ’em at the same time. They’re too dense to see that they’re in the midst of a self-destruction, and that Rove and Bush are just sort of tipping it along a little bit here. That’s what they don’t get. Marty Peretz gets it in the New Republic, still coming up. So the point is to move this off the dime where, “There isn’t a crisis. We don’t need to change this,” to, “Okay, if you’re willing to do that, then we’ll talk to you.” Then you move the dynamic, change the dynamic. Now you’re talking about reforming the system, which has to happen. It’s like Greenspan. Get this! Yesterday we had two AP stories. One AP story said that Greenspan (laughing) I can’t… For the life of me, this just makes me chuckle.
We have two AP stories. One of them said that Greenspan did not agree with private accounts; another story said he did (agree). Both of them AP! Today this is a Reuters story, uhh, and a Reuters story! First one, “Greenspan Won’t Say Crisis — Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan said Thursday the US Social Security retirement program is in serious trouble but avoided saying it was in crisis as President Bush has charged.” Now… “In response to a question from the House Financial Services Committee about why the system was in crisis, Greenspan began to answer ‘the crisis today is largely because…'” He said it’s a crisis! “The crisis today…” Words mean things. “The crisis today is largely…” A Congressman interrupted him. “‘You agree with the president it’s a crisis today?’ Greenspan said, ‘Well, the word “crisis” depends on in what terms. That we have a very serious problem with the existing structure, is what I would stipulate. The terms of how you describe it are far less important than defining what it is.'” So the headline of this story: “Greenspan Won’t Say Social Security in Crisis.” He did say it! He was interrupted and then he defined what crisis is. Next story: “Greenspan endorses personal accounts for second straight day, but he didn’t say it was a crisis.” No, he just said Social Security is “not viable over the long haul.” Well, what the hell else is it, then, if it’s not a crisis? The media here — first it was AP yesterday; now it’s Reuters today, just can’t — whatever they have to do in order to deny President Bush’s language and his characterizations of things, even when Greenspan says it. They’re scared of Greenspan. See, Greenspan is unassailable. Greenspan is the Holy Grail. When Greenspan comes out and talks about all this stuff, they have to recharacterize it so that he doesn’t agree with Bush even when it’s plain to anybody who can understand English he did two days in a row.