Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's a matter of priorities

In the last two weeks the Bush administration has ponied up $85-billion to rescue the insurance giant, American International Group, and will spend up to $200 billion to save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Today Bush just asked Congress to authorize Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to spend up to $700 billion to buy only bad [*] mortgages from the banks who made the bad loans.

[*] Why buy only buy bad mortgages? Because no one but the government will buy them. This relieves the bankers of the responsibility of cleaning up their own balance sheets.

That's $15 billion dollars short of $1 trillion that somehow the government is promising to spend this last two weeks to save Wall Street. There will be more, of course. This is added to the $500 billion already expected federal deficit for fiscal year 2009.

All the conservative angst over Social Security has been based on the estimate that starting in 2042 the Social Security might be receiving only 80% of the money needed each year to pay full benefits. It's a conservative estimate. In all likelihood the deficit will not be that bad if there is one at all. At worst, Social Security will not be broke. It will still be paying 80% of the promised benefits.

That $1 trillion the government just decided in the last two weeks to spend to save multimillionaire Wall Street gamblers bankers would be more than enough to fund Social Security into Perpetuity. Conservatives have screamed for years that the taxpayers can't afford that much money. Yet they raise it in two surprising weeks when Wall Street bankers are at risk.

It's all a matter of priorities. Ask your local conservative. Wall Street Bankers matter. Retirees don't.

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