As the 13 members of President Clinton's Social Security Advisory Council release on January 6 recommendations for Social Security reform after 2+ years of contentious deliberations, a new poll sponsored by the non-partisan organization Third Millennium has found that Americans of all age groups overwhelmingly endorse the partial privatization of Social Security. The poll found that 69% of adults aged 18 or older favor partially-privatizing Social Security so that the government pays flat-rate benefits at approximately half the current level while 40% of individuals' Social Security contributions are diverted into private investments with the individual, not the government, deciding how to invest. Five of the 13 members of President Clinton's Social Security Advisory Council are support this plan, while six favor keeping the current system while diverting 40% of Social Security tax collections to government-managed stock investments and two favor establishing mandatory individual retirement accounts owned by individuals but managed by the government. The poll, by the bi-partisan team of Republican Frank Luntz and Democratic consultant Mark Siegel, asked 800 Americans their views of each of the three reform options the Social Security Advisory Council considered:
Contact Richard Thau at 212/979-2001.
In a January 6 press release former presidential candidate Steve Forbes points out that one of the three main proposals for reform of Social Security considered by the Social Security Advisory Council is "radical and dangerous." Speaking of Commissioner Robert Ball's proposal to have the Social Security Administration invest directly in private markets, Forbes says: "Robert Ball's proposal is radical and dangerous. The idea of the U.S. government buying stocks is nonsensical. It would nationalize the American economy and tank the markets. Whatever the supposed safeguards, does anyone believe politicians could long resist the temptation to meddle in the management of private corporations, especially during an election year?" Also: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan delivered at major speech on Social Security reform on December 6. Saying "Beginning in the year 2012, the annual expected costs of social security are projected to exceed annual earmarked tax receipts, and the consequent deficits are projected to deplete the trust funds by the year 2029," Greenspan advocated several possible reforms, including "adjusting the full-benefits retirement age to keep pace with increases in life expectancy," reducing the Consumer Price Index's inflation index, as Greenspan believes "the CPI goes far beyond the intent of the Congress to insulate retirees from inflation," and giving "intensive evaluation" to "at least a partial privatization of our Social Security system." For a copy of Chairman Greenspan's speech contact Chad Cowan of The National Center for Public Policy Research at 202/543-4110 or visit the Federal Reserve's web site at http://www.bog.frb.fed.us/BOARDDOCS/SPEECHES/19961206.htm. Contact Steve Forbes via Joel Rosenberg at 703/925-9281.
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Clinton Administration has suffered a major setback in its effort to incorporate environmental restrictions into world trade rules after a coalition of developing countries resisted U.S., European and Canadian pressure in favor of environmental trade sanctions during two years of talks. "...The Clinton Administration's divisive proposals could do enormous damage to the economic prospects of the Third World," said CEI's Jim Sheehan. "Global environmental rules, as well as labor standards, are designed to exclude poorer countries from world markets, thus they are inappropriate subjects at a summit which purports to be advancing global free trade." Contact Greg Smith at 202/331-1010.
Consumer Alert and the Media Research Center have analyzed a year's worth of public policy coverage in 13 so-called "women's magazines," finding a strong bias in favor of bigger government. The study found that, from October 1995 to September 1996, there were 115 positive portrayals of government activism or calls for more versus 18 negative portrayals or calls for less. Twenty-three stories asked readers to lobby government officials for expanded government programs. In 56 mentions of science and risk issues, 34 were completely one-sided and did not acknowledge an alternative view, six included an opposing view but gave it superficial coverage, while only 16 articles were balanced. A 12-page report containing the full findings is available. Contact Consumer Alert at 202/467-5809 or the Media Research Center at 703/683-9733 or visit their web sites at http://his.com/~calert and http://mediaresearch.org.
Carl Parks of the staff of Senator Paul Coverdell (R-GA) discussed the Balanced Budget Amendment, saying hearings will start on the BBA around January 13 in Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)'s Judiciary Committee and a Senate vote is likely by February 13. The House, he said, is coming in February 4 and is inclined to move quickly on the BBA. Parks said that backers of the BBA should stress the importance of a balanced budget to the long-term health of Social Security: "The best way to save Social Security... is to balance the budget." Contact Carl Parks at 202/224-3643.
Cliff Kincaid of the American Sovereignty Action Project delivered a presentation opposing a U.S. bailout of the United Nations and challenging the allegation that the U.S. owes the UN $1.5 billion. Kincaid said 1) U.S. money was withheld openly beginning in the 1980s and the U.N. was told that the U.S. would pay after the U.N. reformed its massive financial waste and abuse. SInce then, he said, the U.N. has not moved to correct abuses. 2) If the U.N. is so strapped for cash it should tap into the $15 billion pension fund it has set up for its own officials, including a $102,865 a year to former U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, who has been banned from the U.S. since 1986 for allegedly taking part in Nazi war crimes. Kincaid also reported on efforts by the U.N. and some officials within the Clinton Administration to promote a global tax to benefit the U.N., discussed a new 300-page book written by proponents promoting the global tax, a Senate 70-28 vote last year to cut off all funding to the U.N. if it tries to impose a global tax, and a November 1996 GOA report on the global tax. Contact Cliff Kincaid at 703/352-4788.
Scoop is published by The National Center for Public Policy Research to provide information about the activities of the conservative movement. Coverage of a meeting or statement in Scoop does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Copyright 1997 The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of articles in Scoop permitted provided source is credited.
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