Remember March 2005? “Candy Shop” was climbing the Billboard charts, people had overly optimistic hopes for the John Travolta and Uma Thurman movie “Be Cool,” and we were mere weeks away from watching the University of North Carolina overcome the coaching ability of Roy Williams and win a national title.
Around that same time, President George W. Bush was talking about all the “capital” he’d accumulated by virtue of … umm … winning two close elections, I guess. He was fond of saying that he was going to spend some of that capital by pushing Congress to get the ball rolling on privatizing Social Security. Oh, sure, people warned against the idea, but Bush was channeling his inner David Farragut (“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”) and ignoring the potential dangers of privatization. He was always so good at that!
ANYWAY, I harken back to those halcyon days to provide context for House Resolution 1020, entitled “REQUESTING THAT THE CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS WORK TO PASS SOCIAL SECURITY PERSONAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS.” According to that resolution,
WHEREAS, demographic changes and cost increases will drain the existing Social Security system; and
WHEREAS, without significant changes to the system, costs will exceed revenues starting in 2018 and the Social Security Trust Fund will be completely exhausted by 2042; and
WHEREAS, not reforming the system will require a fifty percent (50%) tax increase on every working American or a thirty percent (30%) benefit cut; and
WHEREAS, social security provides a below market average rate of return of one and one-half percent (1.5%) which further contributes to the system’s financing problems; and
WHEREAS, allowing younger workers to divert a portion of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts will ensure a higher retirement benefit without the need to raise taxes or cut benefits, or both; and
WHEREAS, allowing younger workers to divert a portion of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts will eventually eliminate the ten trillion dollars ($10,000,000,000,000) in unfunded social security liabilities,
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE EIGHTY-FIFTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS:
THAT the Members of the House of Representatives of the Eighty-Fifth General Assembly request that the elected Representatives and Senators in the United State Congress from the State of Arkansas support no increases in payroll taxes, no cuts to social security benefits, and optional social security personal retirement accounts.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT copies of this resolution be transmitted to the Congressional Delegation of the State of Arkansas by the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
Now, last things first, this was a House Resolution, meaning that it was completely unbinding, regardless of how the vote came out. These things are often used for little more than naked political posturing, so that politicians can point to how they were in favor of (or against) something that they really had no control over. For example, in the last few years, there have been House Resolutions “Reaffirming Arkansas’ Support of the Principle of Separation of Church and State,” “Requesting That Arkansas’ United States Senators Support The President’s Nominees To The Supreme Court,” “To Encourage the Arkansas Congressional Delegation to Support Passage of the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act,” and “Claiming States’ Rights Under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Binding or not, the proposed resolution did not pass. All the same, I cannot stress enough how terrible of an idea privatizing social security was in 2005 (and remains today). Take at a look at the S&P 500 between roughly when President Bush was talking about privatization and last month.
(h/t Rachel Maddow Show)
WHEREAS this would have been a horrible idea,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT it is not at all surprising to see that Representative Mark Martin voted in favor of it.
Postscript: Social Security privatization, both past and present, is a topic I hope to hit post-November 2. Also, I realize that Martin as Secretary of State would have no sway over something like this; that’s not the point. The point is that, from Day 1, he has toed the party line on big issues, even when it was an absolutely horrible idea. Martin is, at best, the archetype of a Fox News Republican.
By the way, the title of this post comes from one of my all-time favorite SNL skits: