Social Security Miscue

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 26, 2003 | Go to article overview

Social Security Miscue


Byline: James R. Edwards Jr., SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Usually, Republican administrations are known for being tough on crime, pro-law and order. Yet, the Bush administration is about to reward lawbreakers for their lawlessness.

This political miscalculation could be costly. Why? The administration is rushing - quietly - to give illegal aliens from Mexico Social Security benefits. Reportedly, the administration wants to seal the deal this month.

A few questions the GOP may wish to consider: Does anybody remember that senior citizens vote more faithfully than any other demographic group? Does anybody remember that the 65 and older demographic is growing? Does anybody remember that Social Security is the "third rail of American politics" - touch it and die? Does anybody remember the days when Democrats hammered Republicans for "robbing Social Security" (even though Democrat administrations and Democrat Congresses perfected the spending Social Security Trust Fund monies on other things)?

The pending deal with Mexico differs from other, similar agreements. So-called "totalization agreements" have been around since the 1970s. But the 20 existing agreements, which allow foreigners who worked in the United States and paid Social Security taxes to collect benefits, almost all are with European nations. They cost a total of $183 million for 94,000 beneficiaries, the Social Security Administration says. And only legal visitors qualify.

By contrast, the Mexican deal could cost, according to National Review, $345 billion over the next 20 years. Congressional experts say Mexico would burden Social Security with 162,000 new beneficiaries in the next five years.

The policy problems from such an agreement with Mexico include the sheer volume of people involved, the fact that Mexicans account for the largest proportion of the illegal alien population and vast reliance on fraud, such as fake Social Security numbers and other identity fraud. Mexicans are estimated to make up about half of the 8 million or more illegal alien population.

Already, Social Security will begin running a deficit in 2016. Its current surplus covers spending on other things, because the program operates on a "pay-as-you-go" basis. This is what the whole debate over Social Security reform is all about.

On a political level, this scheme risks Social Security's financial stability for the sake of placating Mexico and pandering to Latino special-interest activists. It pokes a finger in the eye of American senior citizens. And not only isn't it nice to beat up Grandma, to do so carries heavy political risks. …

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