No compromise on Social Security

o far, Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate have maintained a solid front in opposition to President George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. With overwhelming support of their constituents, and a strong mobilization by labor and other grassroots groups, they have rejected Bush’s fear-mongering claim that Social Security is in crisis. They have shot holes in his “personal accounts” scam, showing that only Wall Street will win from Bush’s “fuzzy math” plan.

This growing opposition has caused splits among the Republicans. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) recently told reporters there is no need to hurry to “reform” Social Security. She urged that action be postponed until next year. Bush took Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to the woodshed for predicting that the Senate would not act for at least a year.

Yet Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) says he is willing to work with Bush to achieve a “compromise.” That is just the opening Bush needs. It opens the door to killing off Social Security one step at a time. Call it “death by a million cuts.”

One of these cuts is Bush’s plan to change the way increases in Social Security benefits are triggered. Currently, benefits increase as average national wages rise. Instead, Bush wants to tie benefits to the consumer price index. It would mean enormous benefit cuts over a retiree’s years of drawing Social Security. If this system were in place now, says the Economic Policy Institute, it would mean a 60 percent cut in Social Security benefits for today’s retirees, and an additional 7 million elderly would currently be living in poverty.

Bush also will seek to raise the retirement age, another way of slashing pension benefits.

Our answer should be: no compromise! Any agreement with Bush will pose new dangers to the struggle to defend Social Security. This struggle should not be seen in isolation from other battles to block Bush’s ultra-right agenda. If he wins any kind of victory on Social Security, it will embolden his effort to cut Medicare. It will be much harder to fight his human needs budget cuts, his war in Iraq, his plan to pack the courts with ultra-rightists. We say: “Not one step back! No retreat! No surrender!”

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Bolton unfit for the UN

President Bush slapped the UN and the world in the face when he nominated John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

A former aide to the rabidly right-wing and racist Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), Bolton is a sworn enemy of the UN. In a 2000 radio interview, Bolton said that if he could overhaul the UN Security Council he’d have only “one permanent member — the United States.” Bolton also argued that the U.S. had no legal obligation to pay its back dues to the UN.

Bolton is an opponent of multilateral treaties, declaring his happiest moment of government service was when the Bush administration renounced the treaty on the International Criminal Court. He led the administration’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and put the kibosh on an important biological weapons protocol and other international agreements.

He once proclaimed that the U.S. should extend diplomatic relations to Taiwan, even in the face of warnings by China that to do so would be an act of war. He also advocates a seat for Taiwan at the UN.

In 2002, Bolton was caught in a lie when he accused Cuba of producing biological weapons. Former President Jimmy Carter went to Cuba with free rein to investigate and denounced the charge as a fabrication.

Bolton’s nomination fits into a pattern. Bush earlier named as UN Ambassador John Negroponte, a rogue who oversaw the CIA’s training of “death squads” in Honduras to carry out acts of terrorism and torture against the peoples of Central America. Negroponte is now Bush’s intelligence czar.

Bolton’s views conform to Bush’s imperial doctrine of pre-emptive, unilateral war in which the U.S. acts as a global cop, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. The goal is to enforce U.S. hegemony over the entire world and make the world safe for U.S. transnational capitalism, for the oil and military corporations first of all.

We, the American people, are also demeaned by this outrageous appointment. Contact your senators today. Demand that they strike a blow for sanity by voting against the confirmation of John Bolton. The Capitol switchboard phone number is (202) 225-3121.

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