The President Sings a New Tune

At the beginning of his first term, President Bush also spoke a good deal about the obligations that the government had to the Social Security system. The lines went something like this:

“My [tax relief] plan will keep all Social Security money in the Social Security system, where it belongs.” — President Bush, 2/3/01

“We’re going to keep the promise of Social Security and keep the government from raiding the Social Security surplus.” — President Bush, 3/3/01

“And we set aside all the money for Social Security for only one thing, and that is Social Security. Take all the payroll taxes and make sure it’s only spent on Social Security.” — President Bush, 3/20/01

The President has made it unequivocal to all that Congress should not take any action that would lead to any spending, at all, of Social Security money. That money belongs to Social Security. Under the Bush budget, even with these new numbers, Social Security need not be touched. If there’s any touching, it’s as a result of too much spending by the Congress. So this is a wake-up call to the Congress not to spend tax dollars, because if they spend, and go back onto a spending spree, the Congress risks tapping Social Security’s money. And Congress should take no step that will put Social Security within reach.” — Ari Fleischer, 7/2/01

But now that President Bush is trying to cook up a Social Security crisis, he is doing everything in his power to erode the American people’s trust in the Social Security trust fund. Which is why his new line is…

“Now, secondly, Social Security is not a savings account. In my travels around the country I hear people say, why don’t you just give us the money back we put in. But that’s not the way Social Security works. It’s a pay-as-you-go system. You pay; we go ahead and spend. (Laughter.) You pay through payroll taxes; we spend on paying for the beneficiaries, the retirees for that year. But if we’ve got any money left over, we didn’t save it for you, we spent it on government. That’s the way it works. It’s a pay-as-you-go. And then there’s — all that’s left over is a file cabinet full of IOUs. I have seen the file cabinet in West Virginia firsthand, and I saw all the IOUs. But the system is not the kind of system where we’re holding the money for you. That’s not the way it works. We’re spending your money and left behind some paper that can only be good if the government decides to redeem the paper. That’s a pay-as-you-go system.” — President Bush, 5/19/05