The Social Security Debate

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Allan W. Smith, who "has a Ph.D. in economics from Indiana University, Bloomington, and has taught economics at the university level for 30 years," according to PR Newswire, argues in Dissident Voice that:

The Bush administration is gearing up to pull off one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated against the American people. Under the guise of a plan to save Social Security, Karl Rove and company are pushing a scam to destroy Social Security, as we now know it. Although there are multiple motives behind the attack on Social Security, the prime motive appears to be an effort to cover up the theft of $1.5 trillion of Social Security money by the federal government over the past two decades, more than one-third of which has occurred under George W. Bush.
Mr. Smith would fit the category of analysts that New York Times Columnist David Brooks castigated in a December 11, 2004 column titled Real Reform for Social Security. He said:
The people setting the tone for the opposition to the Bush Social Security effort depict the financial markets as huge, organized scams where the rich prey upon the weak. Their phrases are already familiar: a risky scheme, Enron accounting, a gift to the securities industry, greedy speculators preying upon Grandma's pension.
Mr. Brooks would prefer that everyone accept his view that the debate is "about the market. People who instinctively trust the markets support the Bush reform ideas, and people who are suspicious oppose them," he claims in an argument that has generated considerable commentary in the Blogosphere.

The National Political Observer's position is that, we should not accept the Bush administration's reform plan without considering contrarian voices such as Mr. Smith's. The truth is that economic issues are so complex--I took three economics courses in college and still don't know much more than I knew when I first took them--that we need to see the Social Security debate framed in terms that the average person understands. If someone such as Mr. Smith says "Every penny of the $1.5 trillion generated by the 1983 Social Security tax increase is gone," then convince citizens it's not. Hold town hall meetings and let ordinary citzens question so-called experts on both sides of the debate. This is better than expecting them to read "Strengthening Social Security and Creating Personal Wealth for All Americans," a report issued in December 2001 by The President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. It's my guess that mosts citizens don't even know such a report was issued, and that Mr. Bush intends to follow some of its recommendations, especially the one in which workers invest part of their social security taxes in the stock market.

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