Parkersburg papers: At the bureau of public debt
Several years ago, Congress worried that the Social Security trust funds were too important to trust to those new fangled computers so they passed a law that the “holdings” must be recorded on paper and periodically stored at the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg , Virginia .
Syndicated columnists like Charles Krauthammer and, no doubt, many other citizens believe that these important records are kept securely in some sort of vault or lock-box. Alas, that is not the case.
A secretary at the Bureau of Public Debt is in charge of storing these “special obligation nonmarketable Treasury securities” and she just puts them in a manila folder and stuffs them in a file cabinet. No vault, no key, no lock, nothing but the same sort of place you have at home for your personal income tax records or gas and dry cleaning receipts.
After all, what good would these markers be to a burglar or thief? They can’t be cashed or traded. They are not bearer bonds. In fact, they’re worthless to everyone except the federal government that uses them to double tax us plus interest.
This comes as something of a shock to people like John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO who recently wrote an article criticizing President Bush for waving one of these markers around and making comments about how worthless they are. Mr. Sweeney calls this an “extraordinary betrayal.” And it is, but not for the reasons Mr. Sweeney thinks.
President Bush has been running around the country telling echo chamber groups that there is no trust, but there is a trust fund. He also claims that he has “a lot of explaining to do,” but never seems to get very far into that explanation. He could start off by telling everyone how the Social Security trust funds became more than 22 percent of the national debt, or how the government pretends that the same money can be both spent and saved.
This is good. It’s good because the more Bush fights for his own personal investment accounts version of Social Security reform, the better chance we have that the entire rip-off will become public – that the fit will hit the scam.
At this point, it’s interesting to note that Congress felt the need to back-up Social Security’s “holdings” with a law requiring the Parkersburg Paper, but evidently didn’t feel it necessary to do so with all of the other entitlements in the same boat. Other entitlements like the government’s own Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Military Retirement, Veteran’s Insurance, and so forth, that are riding along with Social Security as passengers on the same disastrous “stay the course” ship of state.
The argument President Bush needs for his optional personal or ownership accounts is the huge amount of surplus currently generated by excessive payroll taxes and pirated by he and his predecessors – $71 billion last year – $82 billion the year before that – $89 in 2003 – and a record $98.7 billion his first year in office – a total of $1.7 trillion including interest that have built exponentially since 1983 when payroll taxes were raised far beyond necessity and will return to the hundred billion dollar level when the job situation and the economy of this country turn around, if ever.
Bush, who wants desperately to be known historically as the man who rescued Social Security, could use these surpluses to prove that older workers would still get their checks just as they always have while these surpluses went elsewhere. And he could prove to younger generations that the money is there to invest. But he won’t. He will not volunteer this for obvious reasons. For even more reasons, no one in his loyal tribe will ask the right questions or any questions at all.
Standing in the threshold or window of opportunity to use this argument he will go as far as to wave one of the Parkersburg Papers in the air and call the trust fund useless, but he hesitates and dances around the edges hoping to develop and pass his solution without having to expose the scam.
The democrats, who are just as greedy as the republicans in this nonpartisan rip-off scam, stand united in their opposition to Bush’s attempts. To counter his arguments, they’ve developed the story that personal accounts will add trillions in “transitional cost” to the national debt when what they’re really talking about is the money they will borrow to replace any surpluses lost to their coffers, running up the national debt in the process.
Democrats also talk about how it’s an attempt to enrich Wall Street when we’re talking about enough money that buying a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and paying commissions to no one would amount to a pittance. And, of course, they recall the risk disasters associated with Enron and others who did the same sort of bookkeeping fraud that the government has been doing for ages.
Democrats like Senator Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi made veiled “insider” threats after Bush’s last State of the Union Address by referring to the national debt as “$4.3 trillion” rather than including the dishonest fraudulent side that brings the debt to quite a bit more than seven trillion. This was reminiscent of representatives Gerhardt and Rangel saying in 2001 “if you want a tax cut, we’ll cut payroll taxes.” These are all nothing but threats to expose the scam if the opposition doesn’t back off.
Meanwhile, the democrats and some republicans have developed a host of alternative reform plans to cut benefits, raise the age of retirement, increase or even eliminate the “cap” on salaries taxed, or otherwise increase the booty in surpluses. In other words, they see Bush’s fumbling as an opportunity to do even more harm.
It’s all silly when the solution has always been so simple and goes back to the days before we had false promises and great debate over “lock-box” ideas substituting for real trust funds – STOP STEALING THE MONEY.
As we recommended in our “Open Letter to Bush & Congress,” pushing the delete key on the entire “Intragovernmental Holdings” in the Treasury’s computers and burning the Parkersburg Papers would eliminate the scam, reduce the national debt to its honestly borrowed money, and at least attempt to make the United States appear financially responsible before the world.
It’s certainly better than pretending that it’s possible to both spend and save the same money.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”