Friday, March 25, 2005

The Right to Die? Or the Right to Protect One's Self

Here we have a lovely story:,0,4268134,print.story?coll=sns-ap-nation-headlines

Do not get me wrong, the guy who wanted to steal a gun to "rescue" Terry Schiavo is a nut, and that certainly is not why I am citing this story. Much rather there is one important line, that I cannot help but point out: the store owner "said he then pointed his own gun at Mitchell and ordered him to lie on the ground. But Mitchell fled out the store's back door before police arrived".

Indeed, here we have a clear example of an armed citizen who defended himself and his property against the attack of a thief. In the end, the only one who will be dead is Terry Schiavo, not the store owner, and not anyone else this lunatic may have taken out. Indeed, "an armed Republic is a friendly Republic".

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

what's that? 2041 instead of 2042??

As promised, President Bush has pushed the Social Security debate to the forefront of his domestic agenda. It is difficult to avoid editorials denying or alleging its impending implosion, as there is no other topic more appropriate to discuss in the realm of disasters than Social Security.

The Social Security Sham

Social Security will bleed red in 2017. The Social Security Board of Trustees reports that the program will run short of funds in 2041 and, in the words of the director of the White House’s Strategic Initiatives Peter Wehner, “the current system is headed for an iceberg.” And while the Bush Administration and Republicans are accused of scrambling amok, frantically screaming that the sky is falling like Chicken Little, the Democrats prefer to deny the inevitable, burrowing their heads into the ground like ostriches at the first sign of danger.

Most of America is in the dark when it comes to Social Security, believing that the government deposits their payroll taxes into an actual trust fund. This is not true. Social Security is a transfer payment system where today’s workers fund today’s retirees—it is literally a pay-as-you-go system. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt imposed the socialistic New Deal as a means to a better psychological end, the ratio of workers to retirees was 16 to 1. Today, it is 3 to 1 and, once the Baby Boomer generation officially retires, it will dwindle to 2 to 1.

No one actually owns the funds contributed via payroll taxes (currently pegged at 12.4 percent of income), and can only hope to recover an equivalent amount. If Social Security continues on its downtrodden path, the current generation will have the onerous burden of paying for today’s retirees while facing the increasing likelihood of paying even more in payroll taxes to fund future retirees, inevitably collecting less than contributed by the time they retire.

A Push for Private Accounts

There are several proposed solutions to rectify this looming threat: Increase the retirement age, index inflation to prices instead of wages, raise payroll taxes or simply do nothing at all. Consistent with his plans for an ownership society, Bush has proposed personal retirement accounts, which would divert up to 4 percent of what workers currently pay in payroll taxes into private accounts.

One such model of the private account is the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, which allows workers to save up to $12,000 in a personal account that they actually own. Most likely, these private accounts will function like IRAs, where withdrawals take place as a lump-sum or an annuity with taxes on withdrawals.

Private accounts are inherently different from Social Security. Funds from a personal account are invested in the market and create an inflow of capital, resulting in accumulated wealth from which the holder can receive benefits. In contrast, the government does not invest payroll taxes into anything and can spend the money on entitlements or general government programs. An even greater fundamental difference is that the contributor fully owns the private accounts. Instead of paying taxes to the government, expecting it back decades later, the contributor owns his or her assets from day one—you actually get what you put in.

The problem with private accounts and diverting 4 percent of taxes is the transition cost. Since Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, someone must cover the benefits promised to current and soon-to-be retirees. If Congress had its way, it would simply raise payroll taxes again or ignore the problem completely. Even a certain number of conservatives, the so-called “free lunch” group who believe that private accounts will be enough to sustain the transition, are ignoring a key structural problem: How benefits are calculated and paid.

Currently, the wage index adjusts benefits for inflation. However, the wage index grows faster than inflation, meaning that Social Security benefits grow just as fast. Bush has suggested indexing to prices (a far better measure of inflation) than to wages. Although there will be borrowing costs, conservatively estimated between $1 to $2 trillion to cover the transition period, that figure is less than the estimated $10 trillion in unfunded liabilities for benefits the government will have to foot.

Moreover, additional borrowing in lieu of budget deficits will make the case even more politically difficult to pitch, but it is unlikely that Bush or Republicans will support any tax increases to partially offset the transition. There will be costs, but there are far greater consequences in inaction than action.

The Liberal Opposition

Opponents feigning ignorance to the inevitable do so by hiding behind the liberal wall of denial. In claiming that individuals are incapable of managing their own private accounts, much less own their retirement assets, opponents realize this is an ideological life-or-death struggle. If Bush succeeds, the New Deal-era and its socialistic attitudes and programs will finally fade into the annals of history. The United States can finally move into the 21st Century.

What troubles modern liberals so much, and what they refuse to admit, is that knocking down one of their great pillars of political demagoguery will make them irrelevant. It will signal an ideological shift of what government can and cannot do, and it will have as much of an effect on our lives and on public policy as the New Deal did for the 20th Century.

Social Security reform is just the beginning of the ideological realignment. The current generation of workers, who are well aware of the inadequacies and limitations of big government, are asking to replace paternalistic social engineering programs like the New Deal with a Just Deal. As Bush said in his Second Inaugural Address:

We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance, preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Did you hear that? A.H. just turned over in his grave.

I will be the first to admit that I am no expert in constituional law. I have a great deal to learn about the Constitution and the law. And I will admit that My fellow RWCers are better versed in this area than I am. That being said, It feels wrong.

Byron, your point about Article III states that the courts have appellate jurisdiction and that Congress can pass laws that effect this. Yes. However, I interpret that to mean that the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over federal cases and Congress can pass laws effecting that, not state cases. If this is the case as you say, why do we have State Supreme Courts? Why not just have all appeals of both federal and state matters go to the Supreme Court? This is a state issue. It is only federal because Congress stepped in and made it federal. The Constitution does not specify that appeallate jurisdiction extends to non-federal cases, and I have to believe that it was not the Founders' original intention to have it do so.

Craig, you talk about marriage and its sanctity. Some people would argue that perhaps a husband and wife relationship automatically trumps a parental relationship. I happen to believe that the two exist on a lateral plane. It is too difficult to differeniate between the two. Who has more rights? I do not believe this is a Congressional question. Also, you talk about political capital. This is all this is, and you guys know it, it is strictly political, and that seriously bothers me.

Kris, the point you made about leaving it to the state until no further appeal can be made is correct. It went through the system. But, the point of having states is that they go through the process and thats it. The decision was made. It doesn't continue if the majority power disagrees with the decision of countless courts, or because of the Governor's last name.

Of course, legal loophole arguments can and will be made. But I'm calling it how I see it. Congress intervened in a personal matter to legislate with the express intention of affecting an individual. Under my Constitutional understanding, Congress cannot pass laws regarding individuals, and this is wrong. They cannot target one indivdual like they did last night. It is wrong to step in and interfere with such an important idea as Federalism simply because a group of people does not agree with the decision of the court. A.H. would be ashamed.


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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Much Ado About Nothing

Terri Schiavo...I know the name. You know the name. Congress knows the name. Terri's case has been floating around Florida's judicial system since her husband settled the malpractice case against her doctors for 1 million dollars. After winning the settlement in 1993, he decided to pull the plug in accordance with Terri's wishes. Her parents, and siblings attempted to intervene, hoping to save her life and become the primary supporters of Terri. The husband (perhaps understandably) wished to be shed of the burden of continuing to care for his wife, and argued that he and Terri had discussed what to do in such a situation and agreed that he should pull the plug. The situation is amazingly unfortunate. In 1990, Terri suffered from heart failure that left her partially brain damaged. By no means is she fully comatose, she responds to external interaction and may have some understanding of the world around her. In a just and perfect world, a woman who displays such signs of life would never be forced to face an early death. In a just and perfect world however, no woman would ever fall upon such misfortune.

In assessing the political landscape of this situation, there are 2 main impassioned issues that are vibrantly related: 1) The sanctity of life. It has been the conservative, and religious position that all human life should uniformly be preserved, from conception to natural death, and that every effort should be made to protect a life that can be saved. 2) The sanctity of and definition of marriage. In this case, one of the fundamental tenets of the legal protections of marriage is being put to a test.

Unfortunately, this is one of the dilemmas to which there is no clear solution. On a legal basis, Congressional Republicans are correct (and correspondingly Timmy and the Democrats are just plain wrong). There is absolutely no legal argument why the Republicans cannot intervene in this and expedite the process of going to the courts. There are, however, many reasons that they may not want to:

A) The sanctity of marriage. Even if Terri's husband is a real S.O.B. he is her husband, and as such appropriately has more legal standing than her parents or her siblings. Indeed, after emancipation or age of majority, save a legal document giving them power of attorney, they have no authority over her. Her husband, on the other hand, has that right. Although the legislation sponsored by the Republicans is just to have that question decided by a higher court, the decision for the legislation is motivated by a prioritizing of Terri's life over her husband's claim, which by legal authority is the same as her own, to end it.

B) The question of entitlement. To introduce a policy that all life must necessarily be saved is a very dangerous one. To put it simply, it is impossible for us to keep all people alive all of the time. As technology advances, we will have the capacity to keep people living through debilitating ailments, and old age. Unfortunately, we will not correspondingly have the capacity of wealth to do so. Ms. Schiavo is now a ward of the state. The Republicans must ask themselves whether they want to encourage similar wards of the state.

C) Slippery slope. In our justice system there are any number of decisions made by courts in which one side or the other appeals. Sometimes the appeal is heard, sometimes it is denied, and sometimes it is caught up in black tape. Every one of these cases cannot get a special injunction from Congress, and furthermore, it is important that Congress not "choose sides" on any case.

D) Political Capital. The Republicans have indeed been successful building a pro-life conservative base. But they must not neglect that such a base is complimented by a pseudo-libertarian states right/individual right core. This decision could alienate and/or divide the Republican base.

This all having been stated. I support the Republicans decision. According to the current law in Florida, even though the husband has justifiable say over decisions of his wife, that does not extend to the right to terminate her life support. She is not "brain dead" the legally qualify-able definition for the probability of returning to livelihood. The Florida court made a decision based upon interpretive activism, not the law itself. The consequence of this decision, without Congressional intervention, would be a woman's life. Congress is preventing an inadvertent murder, a noble goal despite its many consequences.

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In support of the Schiavo Legislation

The divisive nature of the Schiavo legislation is evident by our own blog's disagreement. It is enough to bring Tim back from the blogging hibernation. And I am sure that sooner or later, Craig will weigh in. And if anything, it's proof that we don't always need Rabbit (our most loyal reader) for disagreement on the blog. But we most certainly look forward to hearing his remarks.

First off, I want to commend Kris for articulating so well his support for the legislation just passed tonight.

I too support the Schiavo legislation for two reasons:

1) As Kris has already so eloquently stated, Congress does have jurisdiction over the judicary. What they did tonight was entirely legal. I expand upon this by quoting the following from Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

Clause 2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

2) My friend Tim argues that the Republicans have forfeited logic for emotion. This issue is all about emotion. I doubt any avid follower of politics will not admit that the Republicans had to capitalize on this issue. The ramifications of this issue are huge, as Peggy Noonan has already expounded upon. If Republicans sat idly by, they would give up a victory to the pro-euthanasia (already pushing the PC envelope here)/pro-choice side . And that's a victory they can ill-afford.

Perhaps my own fellow conservatives and friends on the other side of the aisle will call me hypocritical if I do not uphold the states' rights mantra. I vehemently disagree. As Kris pointed out, the Florida state legislature had already passed legislation the Florida judiciary struck down as unconstitutional. The principle of the issue, which I think is larger than just Terri Schiavo, is upholding life. Simple as that.

It is an issue that transcends the invocation of states' rights, like the federal marriage amendment. When I hear congressmen yelling, "get out of my life" on the House floor and others cowardly hiding the pro-'death' clause behind the veil of states' rights, it sickens me. Let us not forget that it was the South who claimed states' rights and a 'leave us alone' sentiment on their path to secession.

To clarify, I want to remind every one that Congress simply expedited the appeals process to be heard at the federal level from the state court. No one in Congress is re-inserting the tube or shutting it off. I think we need to make that clear before the rest of this debate continues. The federal judge may not even rule in favor of the pro-life/Republican crowd. We can only hope that the federal judge makes a sound ruling.

And to conclude, I believe the President can make a compelling point to the nation that he needs sensible judges on the bench. I know the contentious rulings were made at the state level, but the President can make the case that the nation needs judges who can make sound decisions. It's a point worth considering.

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House Passes Schiavo Legislation

Not often will we openly disagree on this blog but I must take exception with what my esteemed friend Tim had to say earlier today. The House tonight, or this morning (depending on what coast you find yourself on), passed legislation allowing appeal of Schiavo's case up to federal courts. Her family, who previously lost in Florida State Court, will now undoubtedly appeal to federal court and in the short-term Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube will be reinserted.

I had to weigh this issue a great deal before arriving at my opinion. On one hand there is a clear case to be made for a state's rights sort of issue. On the other, there is a clear federal interest in protecting the life of Mrs. Schiavo. I have to side with the latter.

Article III of the U.S. Constitution provides for a Supreme Court and other lower federal courts that Congress may establish at a later time. It essentially left a skeleton of a judiciary and Congress then had to fill in the pieces . These pieces were filled in by the Judiciary Act of 1789. In it, Congress created the lower Courts and clarified federal jurisdiction. The Court system is entirely a creature of Congress. They therefore have the ability to statutorily enlarge or decrease the jurisdiction of the Courts, with the exception of the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction as provided for in the Constitution (it would take an amendment to alter this). Accordingly, the Congress is empowered with the power to do what it did tonight. Their actions were constitutional.

The second issue, which is almost as important, was whether or not they should act. I do not deny, and in fact support, that certain issues must be left to the states. They are often the proper guardian of the people's rights and should act accordingly. But tonight was different. While I must say that I would have preferred a sweeping piece of legislation to be passed by Congress (similar to what the House passed earlier this week), this narrowly tailored bill was not an unreasonable exercise of federal power. The government has recognized in cases dealing with life and death, time and again, that there should be recourse in federal courts for state rulings. The issue of life is too important not to grant people that recourse. I therefore concur with the 2/3 majority in the House tonight that voted for this legislation. It's not a perfect bill but it did the appropriate thing in this case.

I agree with Tim that the arguments made on both sides of the aisle tonight were quite shoddy. But because members of Congress did not say what I wanted them to say does not make me this legislation any less constitutional.

Additionally, to those that buy on to the states' rights argument in this case I would say the following: the state of Florida did act on this matter and passed legislation accordingly. Were it not for the actions of the Florida courts, invalidating that law, the Congress may have never needed to step in and intervene. Now, do two wrongs make a right (if that's what you believe occurred in this case)? Absolutely not. I just wanted to make sure to point out that the matter was left to the state until no further point of appeal could be made.

Who knows what the federal judge who hears this case will say. I have no way of knowing. But at least this way, Mrs. Schiavo's parents and family will have one more day in court.

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Barney Frank Espousing Conservative Beliefs? Believe It.

I know I will take flac from my fellow colleagues on RWC. That being said, the Democrats are right. Congress has absolutely no place in this matter. This is a State issue. Federalism works, and we need to let it work whether you agree with the outcome or not. It demonstrates beautifully how partisan politics works. The Reps see an opportunity, so they jump in and take an unbelievably liberal position, while simply to counter the Reps the Dems have taken a very conservative position. The roles are reversed. The Dems are all about emotion and Reps logic, generally. In this case, however, it is the opposite. There is little logic behind the Congress stepping in and interfereing with State and personal matters.


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why we're always compared to the Nazis...

Tim brought this Victor Davis Hanson piece to our attention, and it is worth a read. Titled, Little Eichmanns” and “Digital Brownshirts": Deconstructing the Hitlerian slur", Mr. Davis Hanson tackles the Left's favorite below-the-belt line, comparing George W. Bush to Hitler and the rest of the evil Republican empire as Nazis.

I never was able to figure out why Republicans were always maligned to be like Nazis, when it's the Left that maybe should consider the origins of its erroneous semantics. Nazi stood for National Socialist Party, certainly nothing anyone on the "right-wing" would support. Go figure.

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

A Change in Tactics

The Hill is reporting that some in the GOP camp that favor Social Security reform are ready for a change in tactics. It's undeniable that Republicans are losing the PR war over whether Social Security reforms should be implemented soon. The following is an excerpt from the article:

The president has been highlighting how Social Security is headed for bankruptcy and will be paying out more than it takes in by 2018, but some said that argument has gathered little momentum.

Moore [President of the Free Enterprise fund] said the administration needs to “stop talking about solvency and talk about ownership. … 2018 seems to be very distant in the future to a lot of people.”Gingrich echoed Moore’s contention: “If I tell you that in 11 years you’re going to need a new roof, you’re probably going to say, ‘OK, let’s talk in 10 and a half years.”

As much as I often mock talking points like "ownership society," I must say that they do carry a certain amount of weight. In a recent Weekly Standard article, not on Social Security!, the merits of an Elliot Spitzer (D) candidacy for NY Governor were discussed. While the Weekly Standard certainly wasn't enamored with Mr. Spitzer as many NY Democrats are, they did have many interesting points to make about his strengths as a candidate. He acts like a Democrat and talks like a Republican, just to name one. His Republican issue: playing up the "investor class."

Anyways, without completely rehashing the article I'll get to my point. The idea of investing is certainly scary, but it does provide people with the gratification of actually owning a piece of their future. That gratification is not localized today to merely Republicans or Democrats but rather it applies to everyone. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the Republicans do change tactics on an issue that I feel is incredibly winnable, we might see a bill this summer.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

that roar you hear around the world?

It's freedom.

I thought these quotations would speak for themselves. Check out the rest by clicking on the title.

In the Middle East, a New World

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

-Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt, in the Washington Post

"A long-frozen political order seems to be cracking all over the Middle East.... This has so far been a year of heartening surprises--each one remarkable in itself, and taken together truly astonishing."

-New York Times editorial

"More-aggressive U.S. policies in the Middle East--from the invasion of Iraq to President Bush's rhetoric about fostering democracy--are mingling with local politics to jostle once-unquestioned realities in the region."

-Wall Street Journal news story

"As thousands of Arabs demonstrated for freedom and was hard not to wonder whether the regional transformation that the Bush administration hoped would be touched off by its invasion of Iraq is beginning to happen.... Those who have declared the war an irretrievable catastrophe have been gloating for at least a year over the supposed puncturing of what they portray as President Bush's fanciful illusion that democracy would take root in Iraq and spread through the region.... Clearly the Arab autocrats don't regard the Bush dream of democratic dominoes as fanciful.... Less than two years after Saddam Hussein was deposed...Arabs are marching for freedom and shouting slogans against tyrants in the streets of Beirut and Cairo--and regimes that have endured for decades are visibly tottering. Those who claimed that U.S. intervention could never produce such events have reason to reconsider."

-Washington Post column by Jackson Diehl


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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

here and there

Not much on the blogging front here for us since we're on spring break.

The Social Security reform debate continues, although the media wants you to believe that it's starting to wane. Here's an excellent op/ed today from John Zogby about the ramifications of the attempt for reform. It's a sentiment I have been echoing ever since this discussion began and I hope it does actually happen.

The attack on Alan Greenspan as a partisan hack continues. Sen. Hillary Rodham-Clinton (D-New York), no doubt preparing for her run in 2008, stepped it up during the Federal Reserve chairman's testimony. Here's the testy exchange:

"It turns out that we were all wrong," Greenspan conceded at a Senate hearing.

"Just for the record, we were not all wrong, but many people were wrong," Clinton, D-N.Y., quickly shot back.

Let's not forget that the rosy projected surplus was agreed upon by the CBO and other non-partisan bodies to occur. The two parties disagreed about what to do with the projected surplus. Greenspan does not have a partisan or ideological agenda. His decisions are based on what is best for the economy. Does anyone remember that he raised interest rates during Bush I', right before the 1992 election? Yeah, that really makes him a partisan hack. Admonishing and patronizing Greenspan is embarrassing and downright hypocritical for people who cannot even grasp economics.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Failure in the Air

I've been reading Byron's posts and watching the news, and I can't help but post a followup. Republicans, by signaling weakness on the issues of Social Security and taxes, have opted to follow "popular opinion" and not lead it in a new direction. This in many ways reminds me of President Clinton, who boldly asserted nothing and followed the direction that the wind happened to be blowing. This type of political maneuver enrages me. For all of you that consider me a partisan hack, just watch how quickly I will turn on Congressional Republicans if we fail to do anything with our majority.

To add fuel to the fire it appears more and more like Republicans might also be backing off of tax cuts (for more info on this topic see Byron's post from two days ago). In The Hill today, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) attempted to diffuse rumors of this sort, claiming that tax relief and simplification of the tax codes are still top priorities for Republicans. I ask them now, show me this "commitment" and that this is indeed a "priority." Let's not sit idly by and watch as our majorities disappear because Republicans failed to capitalize on the governing coalition that we now enjoy. If tax cuts and Social Security reform cost us the White House and Congress, so be it. Let's do something for America, besides of course padding our majorities.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

what's the matter with America?

I feel like I'm reporting for the NY Times now with the recent streak of bad news, but GOP pollsters are reporting to House Republican leaders that personal accounts in exchange for lower goverment benefits are the least popular elements on the Republican platform.

So what's left of the Republican platform? Is there anything left? Or are we just going to have fun watching the GOP fight the Democrats over the budget? As my friend Kris pointed out once before, what's the point of being in the majority if you are afraid to do anything?

I understand the concern for re-election in 2006 and even in 2008, but I'm not so sure what the Republicans are interested in passing this year. The President can do a lot, but not without the help of the rest of his party.

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Monday, March 07, 2005

GOP giving up on tax cuts?

It seems that the deficit hawks may have won out over the tax-cutters.

Jim Vandehei of the Washington Post writes:

At the same time, Bush's call for Congress to make permanent all the tax cuts enacted in his first term faces increasingly strong resistance among some Republicans concerned about rising deficits. The chairmen of the Senate Budget and Finance committees said in interviews last week that Republicans might wait until next year, or later, to consider the Bush plan, because the cuts do not expire until the end of the decade.
And, for the first time in years, Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and other Senate Republicans are advocating increasing taxes -- as a way to pay for a restructuring of Social Security (
news - web sites). Bush has not ruled out backing the effort.

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Alan Greenspan ...partisan hack?

For brevity's sake, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan is not a partisan hack. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), however, is.

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) has unveiled his own Social Security plan, which would include the following:
No changes for Americans over 44.
People 44 and younger could "voluntarily divert" payroll taxes to "personal savings accounts invested in the financial markets and government securities."
Retirement age would "rise to 68."
Early retirees "could still get a reduced benefit starting at 62, but it would decrease from 70% to 63% of the full benefit."
Starting in '23, "retirees would receive a base payment adjusted for life expectancy," which Hagel says would "slow payment increases."
"No taxes would increase"

(from the Omaha World-Herald)

And our favorite Californian, Sen. Barbara Boxer, just won't stop:

"So the fact is we're not going to add to the debt. What we're going to do is continue what we've done in the past, make Social Security a pay-as-you-go program and follow the lead of the American people. They've been asked these questions. They come back very strongly. Yes, let's go to the wealthiest of Americans and let's ask them to do a little bit more" ("Face the Nation," CBS, 3/6).

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Photo of the Day...tied to my ranting...

-From yesterday's NY Times

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Blue State Court

"By what conceivable warrant can nine lawyers presume to be the authoritative conscience of the nation?"
- Justice Scalia in his dissent in Roper v. Simmons

I couldn't help but post this op-ed piece from yesterday's WSJ. It's on the ruling handed down by the Court yesterday regarding the matter of the execution of 16 and 17 year olds. I think because I chose an op-ed from the Wall Street Journal everyone will have no trouble in figuring out my opinion on the decision.

I'll keep this short because I'm sure someone might have something to say to the contrary but the decision yesterday was just short of infuriating to me. The Court has proven again that it is willing to shamelessly legislate from the bench. Justice Kennedy, who 15 years ago voted with the majority in upholding the ability of judges to decide on a case to case basis whether a 16 or 17 year old deserved the death penalty, has bowed to an "evolving standard" of decency. Okay, we all know what a fan I am of living constitution arguments, but c'mon, this is going a bit far. Kennedy does not offer up any solid constitutional ground for why the Court decided to legislate on the issue. As Justice O'Connor, someone I'm not prone to referencing, explained that if she were a legislator she might be inclined to raise the age of execution to 18 but as a Justice on the Supreme Court she could see no constitutional basis for doing so. Smart words...I can't believe I just said that! But the smartest words came in Justice Scalia's dissent, not to mention the funniest.

I'm sure plenty of people disagree on this issue but let's remember the Supreme Court's proper role is not to create law and sample the country in an effort to detmine an "objective indicia of consensus." I'm now going to turn to the text of the Constitution, something that isn't done nearly enough these days:

Article I, Section I:
"All legislative Powers herin granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States..."

Article III, Section I:
"The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish..."

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So what is it going to be?

After disclosing their reluctance to confront Social Security reform this year, at least one Republican leader is pulling a flip-flop of sorts and it's none other than Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). According to Frist, "This president and this Congress are facing this challenge and the challenge is to fix Social Security for seniors, for near retirees, and for that next generation," he said. "And we need to do it this year."

Robert Novak's column today highlights the lukewarm reception and feelings Congressional Republicans have encountered amongst constituents. Republicans on the Hill are wary of the very real possibility of losing control of Congress in 2006.

I leave this post deliberately open for discussion from anyone who happens to be reading and even amongst the bloggers, who I have differences in opinion.

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