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What's that OFL noise? It Speaks!

March 18, 2005

Text of Bush press conference – AP

[OFL]: First of all, let me– if I might correct you– be so bold as to correct you– I have not laid out a plan yet– intentionally.

I’ve laid out principles. I’ve talked about putting all options on the table because I fully understand the administration must work with the Congress to permanently solve Social Security.

And so one aspect of the debate is: Will we be willing to work together to permanently solve the issue?

Personal accounts do not solve the issue. Personal accounts will make sure that individual workers get a better deal with whatever emerges as a Social Security solution. [Emphasis mine.]

And the reason why is because a personal account would enable a worker to– voluntarily, by the way; this is a voluntary program, you can choose to join or choose not to join. The government’s not making you do that. It’s your option. And you can decide whether or not you want to put some of your own money aside in a conservative mix in stocks and bonds to earn a better rate of return than that which you would earn– your money would earn inside the Social Security system.

Questions: Since private accounts would be voluntary, who will pay the cost to implement privatization? (The Administration estimates that the transition financing cost will be $664 billion over the next 10 years ($754 billion including interest). The proposal assumes, however, that private accounts will begin in 2009. The full transition cost over the first 10 years after inception is likely to exceed $1 trillion.) Will everybody who pays into social security bear these costs? Or will the costs be borne only by those who opt-in to private accounts? Perhaps the companies that stand to benefit from privatization, those who will administer private accounts, should pay. Does this not make private accounts less “attractive”?

There was also this exchange later in the press conference..

Q: Could I follow up? Everybody else has had a chance..

[OFL]: I know. I’m trying to break the habit.. Sorry, it’s not you, Roberts. Don’t take it personally.

Q: I never do, sir.

[OFL]: That’s good. Neither do I.

Isn’t the whole ‘no follow-ups’ thing just.. weird?

There was more bumblespeak (for example about judicial nominations and about “activist judges” ruling on gay marriage) that was really beond the pale, which I will not to write about today. Suffice it to say that it seems obvious that this guy doesn’t really buy into the antiquated (read: pre 9-11) notion of separation of powers.

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