Tuesday, October 20, 2009
It's hard to instill confidence in the U.S. economy when Washington keeps finding new and creative ways to spend money it doesn't have.
Take President Obama's proposal to send additional $250 checks to Social Security recipients -- on top of the $250 checks they already received as part of the president's $787 billion economic stimulus package.
Because seniors don't need a cost-of-living increase, the president wants to give them a bonus. Don't even try to follow the logic. You can't find it.
Last week, the Obama administration announced that for the first time since automatic Social Security cost-of-living increases were instituted in 1975, there will be no cost-of-living increase in 2010 because the cost of living declined in the period used to calculate the payment.
As it turns out, seniors got a too-big cost-of-living adjustment -- 5.8 percent -- for 2009. So that January adjustment was like a raise of about 4 percent above inflation. Hence, there is no justification for a 2010 cost-of-living increase.
Except: the D.C. Beltway abhors a spending vacuum -- at least for a demographic with high voter turnout. So Obama proposed giving Social Security and disability recipients, as well as veterans, an additional $250 "to help them make it through these difficult times." The cost: $13 billion to $14 billion.
Where are Republicans on this? For all their talk of fiscal responsibility, the GOP leaders have an uncanny affinity toward any plan that throws tax dollars at elderly voters, whether they need the money or not.
Of course, there's a twist that is supposed to show Republicans in a cleaner light. GOP House leader John Boehner wants to fund the $250 checks for 57 million recipients by spooning the money out of the pot of unused stimulus money. The Obama administration, Boehner explained in the Washington Post, "supports borrowing the money needed to fund these payments." For his part, Boehner would siphon the billions needed to bankroll this bonanza from Obama's pot of borrowed money.
Now you know how the fiscal year that just ended produced a record $1.4 trillion federal deficit. Both parties overspend with abandon -- and they'll keep on doing so as long as they can concoct the thinnest pretext to blame the other party.
Of course the AARP is on board. A press release praised "$250 in economic relief to millions of seniors who count on Social Security to pay their bills" -- as if the COLA did not more than make up for any inflation.
Said Obama: "We must act on behalf of those hardest hit by this recession." But that would be the unemployed, not the retired.
"In the midst of a recession, when we are appropriately worried about unemployment and underemployment, we can't forget about seniors who are also hurting," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told the Washington Post. What does that even mean?
It means everyone has a hand out.
COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM
See Other Political Commentary
See Other Commentary by Debra J. Saunders
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.