HIGHTOWER: Clinton's Budget Flim-Flam

There's an old country song called, "It felt so good when it stopped hurting."Well, that's my sentiment exactly whenever I hear Republicans and Democrats alike saying they plan to "fix" our Social Security System. Fix it? How about they just stop hurting it?Latest example is Bill Clinton's highly-touted "zero-deficit budget," announced February 2nd. Headlines everywhere exclaimed, "First Balanced Budget in 30 years," noting that Clinton's 1999 federal budget actually will show a $10 billion surplus. Good news, right?Not if you're counting on getting Social Security when you retire. To make his budget "balance," Clinton quietly reached into the Social Security Trust Fund -- a fund that is supposed to be used for nothing but paying-out benefits to future retirees. Clinton took $100 billion from the fund, leaving us with an I.O.U. Without this money, his budget wouldn't balance -- instead of a $10 billion budget surplus, there would have been a $90 billion deficit.In other words, his "Zero-deficit" is a flim-flam, a congame. Bush did the same thing -- Reagan, too. Presidents and the Congress have routinely been looting our Trust Fund to make their deficits look smaller. Already, they've taken $600 billion from it -- money owed us when we reach retirement age. Then, these cynical politicians tell us that to "save social security," dire measures are needed, like increasing our eligibility age to 70.Clinton even piously proclaimed that to help shore up the Social Security Trust Fund, he wants to donate that $10 billion surplus in his new budget. But wait ... he only has that surplus because he took $100 billion out of the Fund.This is Jim Hightower saying ... It's like someone stealing $100 from you, then wanting a pat on the back for returning $10 to you. Do we have sucker wrappers around our heads?Source: "Social Security IOU balances Clinton budget" by Bob Deans. Austin American-Statesman: Feb. 3, 1998. "Budgetary sleight of hand covers up deficit spending." USA Today: editorial page: Feb. 3, 1998.

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