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Home | March 2005 Archives

  Federal Propaganda in the Media | March 30, 2005

The New York Times reported on Sunday, March 13, that at least 20 government agencies have made and distributed hundreds of video news releases during the Bush administration. Many of these propaganda items were broadcast on local news programs without any public acknowledgement of the government’s role in their production.

In 1973, during my tenure as Director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity which oversaw $3 billion in annual spending under the Economic Opportunity Act, I suspended all government-funded propaganda commercials which had been broadcast on TV and on the radio in order to build public support for left-wing, LBJ-era, unconstitutional "Great Society" programs.

I am confident that none of America’s Founding Fathers would approve of using Federal funds to lobby the very citizens whose taxes put those funds into the Federal treasury. Unfortunately, instead of reforming the propaganda practices of his administration in support of assorted government programs, Mr. Bush is defending it. He needs to hear from the American people and change his policy.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  Real Lockbox | March 29, 2005

According to Dr. Jack Wheeler, some members of Congress are about to advocate something called the "Real Lockbox".

"In 2004, Social Security payroll taxes brought in $151.5 billion more than the total of Social Security benefits paid out to recipients. This surplus was not set aside, invested, deposited, or in any way kept within the Social Security system. It was spent, spent by the federal government on general government expenses. Every dime. In its place are $151.5 billion of IOU’s issued by the Treasury Department. These T-bond IOU’s are not an asset, they are debt, a liability. A liability on which the government must pay compound interest.

"As [Alan] Greenspan noted, the 2004 federal deficit was officially $412.5 billion – and ‘would have been $564 billion,’ if Social Security revenue hadn’t been included in the budget."

The "Real Lockbox" now being proposed, which would return the surplus to taxpayers, will work like this:

"Whatever percentage of the total Social Security receipts for a given year exceeds total payments, that percentage of payroll taxes paid by an individual taxpayer is returned to him or her in the form of a check. The check is marked: ‘For deposit into a Social Security Roth IRA account only.’ Thus the return of the surplus to taxpayers is not a refund, it is a deposit.

"If the Social Security surplus is, say, 25% of the total Social Security taxes paid in a given year, and an employee and his employer together paid $6,000 in Social Security taxes, the employee would receive a Social Security Roth IRA deposit check for $!,500 (25% of $6,000). The remaining $4,500 would be credited to the employee’s traditional Social Security account – the one to which the Supreme Court says the employee has no ownership rights – with the employee’s retirement benefit payments based on the total amount credited to the traditional account only.

"The Real Lockbox thus reduces the liabilities accruing in traditional Social Security accounts by the surpluses plus interest. (That’s assuming that most everyone would accept their deposit check – people would be fully free to return the check and have it credited to their traditional Social Security account.)

"These surpluses are currently estimated to be around one trillion dollars total until Social Security goes into the red in 2018. This is one trillion dollars on which the government (i.e., the taxpayers) must pay compound interest on wage indexing until recipients retire and cost of living indexing thereafter. Over several decades, several trillion dollars must be paid back on this initial one trillion – which means if that trillion goes into private Social Security Roth IRAs, those several compounded trillions are saved. …

"The reason why deposits must be placed into a Roth IRA is not only to make the savings secure – it is because Roth IRA dollars are after-tax dollars: no further taxes are due on Roth IRA dollars when they are taken out. A Social Security Roth IRA would place more restrictive investment and withdrawal rules than for an ordinary Roth IRA (such as limiting it to investments permitted by the Federal Thrift Plan plus the Wilshire 2000/5000 which are more diversified than the S&P 500). …

"The Real Lockbox is far superior to President Bush’s own private accounts plan. The Bush plan assumes such a private account will earn an average of at least 3% plus inflation. This means that private accounts earning less than a real 3% will lose money, i.e., earn less than if payments were kept in traditional Social Security and not put into a private account at all. The 3% deduction proposal is essentially a 3% annually compounded tax on capital diverted to the proposed private account. How many investors would buy an index fund with a 3% per year management fee?"

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  Feminism | March 28, 2005

Ann Coulter is on target in her March 16 commentary: "How many people have to die before the country stops humoring feminists? Last week, a defendant in a rape case, Brian Nichols, wrested a gun from a female deputy in an Atlanta courthouse and went on a murderous rampage. Liberals have proffered every possible explanation for this breakdown in security except the giant elephant in the room – who undoubtedly has an eating disorder and would appreciate a little support vis-à-vis her negative body image.

"The New York Times said the problem was not enough government spending on courthouse security (‘Budgets Can Affect Safety Inside Many Courthouses’). Yes, it was tax-cuts-for-the-rich that somehow enabled a 200-pound former linebacker to take a gun from a 5-foot-tall grandmother. …

"I think I have an idea that would save money and lives: Have large men escort violent criminals. Admittedly, this approach would risk another wave of nausea and vomiting by female professors at Harvard. But there are also advantages to not pretending women are as strong as men, such as fewer dead people. Even a female math professor at Harvard should be able to run the numbers on this one."

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  Foreign Aid | March 25, 2005

It’s disappointing to see our friends at the Heritage Foundation endorse more foreign aid.

In an Executive Memorandum dated March 8, 2005, Heritage (per Brett D. Schaefer) argues that President George W. Bush’s 2006 budget proposal, which includes $3 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account, should be funded by Congress. The MCA is a new foreign assistance program. Heritage’s advocacy is based on the theory that "development assistance is not sufficient to spur economic growth in poor countries". Heritage says proposals received "require funds greatly exceeding the $2.5 billion appropriated in 2004 and 2005.… The President’s request, originally projected to be $5 billion, already reflects the delayed schedule" and, in the view of Heritage, "merits support from Congress".

Heritage should reread the Constitution. It provides no authority whatsoever for foreign aid of this kind, totally unrelated to the defense of the United States of America. If a "conservative" think-tank such as Heritage fails to hold President Bush’s unconstitutional policy recommendations in check, it makes the task of those of us committed to Constitutional principles that much more difficult.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  TCCF Tax Poll | March 23, 2005

TCCF’s Administrative Vice President, Charles Orndorff, gave me final results this afternoon on the Tax Reform Poll conducted by The Conservative Caucus Foundation. 

The results were: 

  • Keep the current tax structure – 6%, 

  • Adopt a flat-rate Federal income tax – 23%, 

  • Replace the Federal income tax with a national sales tax – 16%, 

  • Replace the Federal income tax with a revenue tariff, limited excises, and a Citizenship fee, in accordance with the original Constitutional system – 53%, and 

  • Other – 2%.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  Social Security Personal Accounts | March 22, 2005

Former Congressman Bill Archer (R-Texas) and incumbent Clay Shaw (R-Florida) have proposed a Social Security guarantee plan where a personal account for each worker would be established outside the Social Security system with the government contributing 2% of the FICA wage base per worker per year.

Individuals would direct the nature of their investment, but, unfortunately, it would be limited to government approved bonds and stock market index funds.

The good part is that at retirement the worker could receive the greater of the then current law Social Security benefit or a monthly payment from the personal account.

Actuaries have determined that implementation of this plan, without any tax hikes, would make the current Social Security system solvent for 75 years and beyond. There would be significant near-term transition costs achieved by borrowing, but the new debt would be offset by growing assets in the personal accounts.

At first glance, this seems to be the least worst of the various proposals which have been put forward although it’s not nearly as good as the Barry Goldwater recommendation that the system be made entirely voluntary.

The obligatory payment of FICA taxes is a heavy burden on businesses and employees. Wouldn’t it be great if that system were eliminated and businesses and workers could keep the money and invest it in accordance with their own preferences which surely would be better than the current system where the younger generation pays FICA taxes to keep political promises made to retirees?

Under Archer-Shaw, the Federal government would create an account for each of the 136,000,000 current workers, and would contribute an amount equal to 2% of the Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) wage base per worker each year. Earnings would accumulate tax free.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  Social Security Trust Fund | March 21, 2005

In 2003, Social Security payroll taxes and earnings on taxes previously collected totaled $631.9 billion. Of this amount, $479.1 billion was paid out to Social Security beneficiaries, leaving a surplus of $152.8 billion for the so-called Social Security Trust Fund.

The total amount in the so-called Social Security Trust Fund is $1.531 trillion, but all of this money has been spent, not on Social Security benefits, but on general expenditures by the Federal government.

By the middle of this century, even assuming that Uncle Sam will make good in paying its IOU’s to the Trust Fund, the fund will be totally depleted and it will no longer be possible for Social Security benefit checks to be mailed. In fact, the fund will begin running a deficit by 2020.

In my opinion, Barry Goldwater was right when he proposed making Social Security voluntary. You can pay into the Social Security system all of your life, but, if you die before the retirement age, which, as a result of policies set in the 1980s, keeps getting later and later, your family members or other beneficiaries will receive zero.

Under a voluntary system, you and your employer could take the money now being extracted in FICA taxes and invest it with a guaranteed return for you and your family. Why isn’t the voluntary approach being seriously considered by the President and members of Congress?

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  Alternative Minimum Tax | March 18, 2005

Unless Congress acts this year, some of the benefits of prior year tax cuts will be lost.

For example, estate tax repeal and the 35% ceiling on income taxes are set to expire at the end of this decade. The 15% rate for capital gains and dividends expires on December 31, 2008. At the same time, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is a growing threat to millions of Americans. In fact by the end of this decade, some 30 million taxpayers will be subject to the AMT, up from one million in 2001.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  Taxation | March 17, 2005

We cannot too often be reminded that, when it comes to taxation, the "equal protection of the law" guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution is disregarded.

The bottom 45% of the population in terms of income (those who earn less than $30,000 a year) filed 67,600,000 income tax returns in 2004, yielding to the Federal Treasury less than $22.7 billion, which amounted to less than 3.1% of all income tax revenues collected.

Those who earn more than $100,000 per year (the top 12% of taxpayers) filed 17,800,000 returns and paid taxes of $548.9 billion (75.9% of the total take).

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus

  Bankruptcy | March 10, 2005

When the U.S. Senate voted yesterday 53 to 46 against an amendment to the bankruptcy reform bill (S. 256) that would have targeted peaceful pro-life activists, preventing them from using bankruptcy protection to guard personal assets from court-ordered fines or judgments, there were some interesting votes. 

To their credit, Democrats Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska opposed the Schumer plan. 

To their discredit, Republicans Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania joined Schumer in his attempt to single out pro-life activists.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus (TCC)

  Ten Commandments | March 9, 2005

The arrogant, ignorant elitism of the Establishment media is nowhere better reflected than in the March 3 Washington Post cartoon by Tom Toles which suggests that “separation of church and state” is the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution. 

Here is what the Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

This kind of journalistic ignorance is the predicate for the Left’s failure to acknowledge the Ten Commandments as the foundation of America’s system of law and justice.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus (TCC)

  George Mason University | March 8, 2005

Kudos to George Mason University (GMU) and boos for Phi Beta Kappa which ruled out the possibility of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at George Mason University because of a supposed denial of academic freedom when GMU refused to use student fees to pay a $35,000 speaking honorarium to Fahrenheit 9-11 propagandist Michael Moore.

Let’s hope GMU does not retreat in the face of this latest blast of political correctness.

If refusing to subsidize Michael Moore at taxpayer expense (directly or indirectly) is an abuse of academic freedom, Phi Beta Kappa ought to produce its own dictionary, with a thesaurus straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.

Howard Phillips 
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus (TCC)

  Capital Punishment | March 7, 2005

Three Republican Supreme Court nominees and two Democrats joined to declare their opposition to the imposition of capital punishment on murderers under the age of 18.Republicans John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter were joined by Democrats Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer in the 5 to 4 decision.

It seems only logical that this anti-Biblical ruling will increase the number of murders.

If you are committing a rape or a robbery at the age of 17 years and 11 months, you might decide to murder the witness to your crime, rather than let him or her live to testify against you.

Purporting to act humanely, these blind judges made themselves accomplices to serious crimes which will now more likely be committed.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus (TCC) 

  Taiwan | March 4, 2005

It is good to see Bill Clinton dining with Chen Shui-Bian, the President of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

This was not a casual visit. 

The good news is that the Bush Administration, directly and indirectly, is sending Beijing the message that it ought not to assume that the USA’s focus on Iraq would prevent us from opposing militarily any attempt by the People’s Republic of China (Red China) to seize the democratic republic of Taiwan.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus (TCC) 

  Vice President Rice? | March 3, 2005

Watch out for Condi Rice, who is now being touted for the 2008 GOP Presidential nomination by Wallbuilders Founder and Texas GOP Vice Chairman David Barton, as well as by political consultant Dick Morris, who has been an adviser to Bill Clinton, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, and assorted others.

Miss Rice is certainly an attractive, accomplished individual, but by no stretch of the imagination can she be considered to be a Constitutional conservative. She is a down-the-line “New World Order” Establishment personage as was seen during her tenure as a member of the corporate board of ChevronTexaco and as President Bush’s National Security confidant, and now Secretary of State.

Some are suggesting that should Dick Cheney volitionally or morbidly vacate the Vice Presidency, President Bush would choose Condoleezza Rice to become Vice President, thus positioning her to be the 2008 GOP Presidential nominee.

This is not a far-flung possibility. Remember, you heard it here.

Others being discussed for the GOP nomination include: (1) prospective Alabama Governor Roy Moore, (2) Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, (3) Colorado Governor Bill Owens, (4) Florida Governor Jeb Bush, (5) Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, (6) Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, (7) former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, (8) South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, (9) Arizona Senator John McCain, (10) Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, (11) Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, (12) Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, (13) Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, (14) Virginia Senator George Allen, (15) Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, (16) former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, (17) former Attorney General John Ashcroft, (18) Commentator Patrick J. Buchanan, (19) Vice President Dick Cheney, (20) Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, and (21) former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

Watch this site for regular updates.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus (TCC) 

  Just a Coincidence | March 2, 2005

Almost immediately after Democrat Senator Joe Biden (Delaware) and GOP Senator Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania) told Tim Russert on Sunday’s Meet the Press that they oppose changing the Constitution to permit non-natural born citizens of the United States to run for President, Arnold Schwarzenegger disclosed that he has no designs on the Presidency and no interest in becoming a candidate.

Howard Phillips
Chairman, The Conservative Caucus (TCC)

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