It's been too long since I blogged about Social Security reform, probably because of the frustration I felt after the Blogger Alliance for Social Security Reform gave up the fight. It was pretty much a dead issue, or so I thought. That's probably why I didn't notice any mention about this amendment that would accomplish the basic elements of good reform until it had been voted down. Though frustrated again, I did find some good reporting about this amendment after it's defeat.
The amendment was sponsored by Sen. DeMint (R-SC), with Sens. Crapo (R-ID) and Sununu (R-NH) co-sponsoring. It's official Statement of Purpose: To establish a reserve fund for Social Security reform. According to Sen. DeMint's press release, "the... Amendment to Stop the Raid on Social Security would allow the Senate to pass legislation with the following requirements: Social Security surpluses must be used to help pay for future benefits; That it make no changes to the benefits of those Americans born before January 1, 1950; That it provide a voluntary option for younger Americans to obtain legally binding ownership of a portion of their benefits." These are the aforementioned elements of good reform.
Some good quotes from the release: "The late Senator Moynihan once characterized the raid on the Social Security surplus as embezzlement—and that’s indeed the case," said Senator Crapo. Sen. DeMint said "It is outrageous that we are robbing from retirement funds to pay for wasteful spending, and I urge my colleagues to join me in stopping this abuse." I'm with these gentlemen 110 percent. My only question is "Why wasn't this on anyone's radar until it's defeat?"
From all appearances, it was a shot in the dark, possibly a "test the waters" kind of thing. After the bad MSM reporting on Pres. Bush's "non-plan," Sen. DeMint may not have wanted alot of publicity surrounding this. The fact that it was an amendment, and not a bill, speaks to this, being a common way of "backdooring" legislation that wouldn't get through as a stand-alone bill. The fact that it lost by 5 votes shows that this idea is not dead, just deadlocked in a partisan stalemate.
[NOTE: The Library of Congress website has a discrepancy with the Senate website. The amendment was to S.CON.RES.83, "An original concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2007 and including the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2006 and 2008 through 2011," according to the LoC site. The Senate's website has a link that says S.Con.Res. 83, but actually links to S.2083, "A bill to prohibit the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) from removing any item from the current list of items prohibited from being carried aboard a passenger aircraft," sponsored by Hillary. What's up with that? I hope our senators aren't getting their info from the Senate website. I encourage you to check the Senate and LoC website links for yourself.]
Either way, it's a damn shame that this amendment didn't pass.
The breakdown of votes is interesting, to say the least. Liberal Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) was the sole abstention, and 8 Republican senators actually voted against the amendment. Hat tip to Tim Chapman at the Town Hall.com Capitol Report, who obligingly posted this list of all the senators who voted against this progressive reform:
Akaka (D-HI) Baucus (D-MT) Bayh (D-IN) Biden (D-DE) Bingaman (D-NM) Boxer (D-CA) Burns (R-MT) Byrd (D-WV) Cantwell (D-WA) Carper (D-DE) Chafee (R-RI) Clinton (D-NY) Collins (R-ME) Conrad (D-ND) Dayton (D-MN) Dodd (D-CT) Domenici (R-NM) Dorgan (D-ND) Durbin (D-IL) Feingold (D-WI) Feinstein (D-CA) Harkin (D-IA) Inouye (D-HI) Jeffords (I-VT) Johnson (D-SD) Kennedy (D-MA) Kerry (D-MA) Kohl (D-WI) Landrieu (D-LA) Lautenberg (D-NJ) Leahy (D-VT) Levin (D-MI) Lieberman (D-CT) Lincoln (D-AR) Lugar (R-IN) Menendez (D-NJ) Mikulski (D-MD) Murray (D-WA) Nelson (D-FL) Nelson (D-NE) Obama (D-IL) Pryor (D-AR) Reed (D-RI) Reid (D-NV) Rockefeller (D-WV) Salazar (D-CO) Sarbanes (D-MD) Schumer (D-NY) Smith (R-OR) Snowe (R-ME) Stabenow (D-MI) Talent (R-MO) Wyden (D-OR)
The people named above just voted to keep taking our FICA taxes in the name of "Social Security," and spend the "surplus" as if it was regular income tax money, or "general fund" revenue. When people see FICA tax on their pay stubs and tax returns, they assume that the money paid goes into a Social Security Trust Fund. There is no such thing, as noted in DeMint's release: "The current Social Security system allows Congress to spend the Social Security surplus on other government programs. Including interest, Congress has raided $1.7 trillion from Social Security since 1985. The surplus now only consists of IOU’s stacked in a vault in West Virginia that can only be paid back by raising taxes or cutting spending." Alas, this is the truth that is being ignored.
Take note of the names on this list. These Senators are not looking out for their constituents, and need to be voted out of office. They are no more than common theives, and ought to be ashamed of this vote.
PS: I also noticed that while Pres. Bush fielded a question about SS reform in a recent press conference, he didn't give any public support for, or even mention this amendment. Once burned, twice shy I guess, though he may not have been notified about it. Robert Novak reports: "This 46-to-53 vote was not another instance of Republicans' rebelling against President Bush," confirming my suspicions. The media was also nowhere to be found on this before the vote, but that may have been part of Sen. DeMint's plan. Mr. Novak calls it "a little-noticed move," but it made more than a little ripple in the water here at LEAVWORLD.
(My best South Park impression...)
...THEY KILLED MY SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM! STOP STEALING MY MONEY, YOU BASTARDS! ESPECIALLY MY SENATORS, CLINTON AND SCHUMER!
(THAT'S RIGHT, CHUCK, I PUT YOU SECOND TO HILLARY! -LOL!)