Thursday, March 03, 2005
Empty Suit Thursday: Smilin' Norm's been on vacation
Smilin' Norm Coleman has been ducking constituents during the recent Congressional break. Probably a good idea after telling a reporter that he very clearly favored personal accounts but opposed privatization. It's been 7 days since my email, Senator. This constituent would appreciate an answer to his very fair questions.
Smilin' Norm wouldn't be the first-rate empty suit he is without his talking points. If you visit his official Social Security page, you see the familiar claims about worker ratios and promises to our children. You get dreck like this:
Today, the return on your current Social Security dollar is less than two percent — while average annual earnings over the last 10 years on conservative investments has been around 5 percent.
Coleman pretends to compare apples to apples, but he's really comparing apples to oranges. Social Security is basically a pay as you go program. The taxes I pay today go to pay benefits for current retirees. In order to address the Baby Boomer retirements in the next decade, there is a modest trust fund. The trust fund buys Treasury bills. If the trust fund bought a 10 year treasury bill today, it would pay a guaranteed 4.29% interest
. That's not so far from the magical 5% Smilin' Norm is peddling.
Smilin' Norm also offers this:
Personal accounts are a very attractive option that we can offer to strengthen Social Security, but they are not the only option.
Personal accounts do not strengthen Social Security. The transition to private accounts will cost trillions and trillions of dollars. Unless and until Smilin' Norm receives talking points that address how to fund privatization, there's no point in going any further.
Smilin' Norm's big achievement so far is his chairmanship:
It's a privilege to serve as Chairman of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI). My mission as PSI Chairman is to crack down on waste and fraud in government and rout out wrongdoing on behalf of the American taxpayer.
As chair, Coleman has aggressively investigated the UN Oil for Food program. Smilin' Norm has been even more aggressive in promoting his investigation. Since November 9, he has issued 9 press releases related to Oil for Food.
The Guardian UK recently published a commentary discussing Oil for Food in the context of the $8.8 billion that the Coalition Provisional Authority lost in 14 months. The United States was aware of violations of Oil for Food, but condoned the violations because looking the other way benefited allies like Turkey. Smilin' Norm continues to focus on Benon Sevan, who may have received $160,000 in bribes, while ignoring the waste, abuse, and possible fraud at the CPA. That's $8.8 billion in American taxpayer dollars, Senator. It merits investigation.
Finally, Bush Boy doesn't seem to be actively maintained, but I recommend it as the anti-Smilin' Norm site of the month!