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Jewish World Review July 7, 1999 /23 Tamuz 5759

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas
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To tell the truth --
ONCE THERE WAS a television show called "To Tell the Truth.'' Three people identified themselves by the same name, and contestants asked questions to determine which one was telling the truth.

We might play that game with President Clinton. He claims that he has found another $1 trillion, after discovering a previous trillion dollars, following a miscalculation of a much lower surplus that has yet to materialize and is only a projection based on a supposition that current growth will continue for 15 years.

How do we know this president isn't lying to us the way he has about everything from foreign policy and domestic "affairs'' to even his golf score? How can we be certain that the flimflam man isn't sticking it to us again in order to boost his approval numbers, improve his vice president's election chances and establish his "legacy'' before leaving office? He might say anything to fool us into thinking he is a great president.

The lie is that Medicare needs more money. The truth is it needs comprehensive fixing. Red tape is only one of Medicare's problems. A new Heritage Foundation analysis notes that the Health Care Financing Administration frequently denies reimbursements for care it deems "medically unnecessary'' but does not provide doctors and patients with sufficient information to determine what services fit that description. There are more than 111,000 pages of rules and regulations governing Medicare patients. The answer to the problems surrounding Medicare is a system of choices, allowing families to pick the plans that provide the benefits they need, not a government bureaucracy that imposes a one-size-fits-all program.

The president also claims that by spending the "surplus'' -- which is not yet in the bank -- on Social Security, the problems inherent in the current system will be mended. The truth is that, like so many other proposed "fixes,'' this one only delays the day of reckoning when the Baby Boomers are retired and the ratio of workers to retirees declines to two to one and the system can afford to pay out only about 71 cents for every dollar paid into it.
A bipartisan congressional plan would take steps to improve Social Security's unfunded liability by allowing workers to divert a small portion of their existing Social Security taxes into a personal retirement account that they would own, vastly improving the rate of return on their money as it has done in England and other countries. Announced on May 20, but yet to be introduced as legislation, the bipartisan Senate proposal would divert just 2 percent of wages from workers' Social Security retirement taxes into a new individual retirement account. The accounts would mirror the Thrift Savings Plan currently available to federal workers, which offer a limited number of investment options.

In addition to the amount diverted from existing Social Security taxes, workers could save up to an additional $2,000 a year in their accounts. Contributions from lower-income workers would be matched by the government. If the worker died before retirement, the full amount of the account would go into his or her estate.

This is serious Social Security and Medicare reform that will work, but the truth is Democrats want to use the issue against Republicans rather than solve the problems. That way they can continue their slander of Republicans as uncaring about the elderly and the poor. But true compassion means fixing something that is broken so that it will benefit the people it was designed to serve.


06/29/99: A family to value
06/25/99: Remembering Eric Liddell
06/21/99: In the culture wars it's G-d vs. guns
06/18/99: Unequal justice under a bad law
06/15/99: Speaker Hastert wants reinforcements
06/11/99: Clues for the clueless
06/09/99: Victory? What victory?
06/07/99: Too good for prime time
06/03/99:The Creator and Commencement
05/28/99: The Cox Committee Report
05/26/99: 'A turning point for our country'
05/24/99: Barak is not Israel's savior
05/19/99: It takes a leader
05/17/99: Questions for Gov. Bush and the others
05/12/99: OAF-ish behavior explains U.S. mistakes
05/07/99: Israel's high-stakes election
05/04/99: Jeb Bush chooses to save kids, not institutions
04/26/99: Surrendering our civilization
04/26/99: War abroad, war at home

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