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March 2005   spivey
Social Security: Americans Only-Please! By Phyllis Spivey

Social Security: Americans Only Ė Please!

By Phyllis Spivey

Bewildering, isnít it, that with the entire nation focused on the solvency of the Social Security system, the press continues to ignore a Bush Administration plan that by itself could break the bank? No, weíre not talking privatization; itís the Mexicanization of Social Security thatís getting neither ink nor sound bites

Political opponents apparently intend to spare George Bush the embarrassment of having to explain why, while trying to edge Americans off Social Security, heís putting Mexicans on it. Even the American Association of Retired Persons, so stridently opposed to private accounts, is mum on the plan to extend Social Security benefits to Mexicans who work, or have worked Ė even illegally Ė in the U.S.

News of the plan broke in December 2002, when articles began appearing in major newspapers. In September 2003, Congress conducted hearings on it, where projected costs for the plan went as high as $345 billion over ten years. The same month the General Accounting Office (GAO) released a study faulting the SSA for its deeply flawed analysis of the proposal and describing costs as highly uncertain due to unknowns about the "size, work history, earnings, and dependents of the unauthorized (read that illegal) Mexican population."

But just when related news, e.g., President Bush proposing quasi amnesty for illegals and dire warnings about the financial condition of Social Security, should have shoved the social- security-for-Mexicans scheme into the headlines, the issue all but faded from view. Even the accelerating presidential campaign failed to restore media interest.

Then, on June 29, 2004, SSA Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart and her Mexican counterpart quietly signed the proposed agreement, committing U. S. taxpayers to a one-sided contract of which few Americans were aware and on which there had been no public debate, despite its huge ramifications for a retirement system already in trouble.

The Center for Immigration Studies put things in perspective with its September 2004 release of an eye-popping study, predicting the plan would:

permit partial payment of Social Security benefits to Mexicans who work in the U.S. as little as 18 months;

permit Mexicans to return to Mexico and collect benefits, including disability pensions and survivor benefits;

cover not just Mexican workers, but their families as well, even if they have never lived in the U.S;

eventually compel the U.S. to pay billions in benefits to Mexicans for credits acquired while using fraudulent Social Security numbers prior to obtaining legal status;

In September 2004, Rep. J. Hayworth, Arizona, proposed legislation to block benefit payments to Mexicans, but the House of Representatives defeated it, 178-225, California Congressmen Dreier, Issa, Lewis, and Thompson voting "no." Throughout the presidential campaign, John Kerry remained silent.

Today, a SSA web site still carries the June 29, 2004 press release announcing: "United States and Mexico Sign Social Security Agreement. Another site states, "... the President will submit the agreement to Congress where it must sit in review for 60 session days. If Congress takes no action during this time, the agreement can move forward."

Meanwhile, the SSA Ė though thoroughly discredited by the Government Accounting Office and others Ė continues to minimize the financial impact of the agreement, passing it off as just another of the 20 plus "totalization" agreements the U.S. has been racking up since 1978. The totalization countries include Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, Canada, United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Greece, South Korea, Chile, Australia and most recently Japan (expected to take effect in late 2005).

The SSA describes totalization as "international social security agreements that coordinate the U.S. Social Security program with the comparable programs of other countries." Critics, however, say the actual goal is to force U.S. taxpayers to subsidize the corporate hiring of cheap foreign labor to replace American workers. Particularly galling is that foreigners are getting social security benefits on far better terms than U.S. citizens, even where there is no totalization agreement.

In July 2003, for example, author Phyllis Schlafly told of a report in The Economic Times of India. It indicated the Bush Administration had assured India that its citizens coming to the U.S. to work on H-1B visas would receive Social Security benefits in six years, instead of the ten required for Americans. Itís unlikely this policy applies only to India.

Despite a lack of publicity on the accord with Mexico, opposition is growing, and itís led by Congressmen from the Presidentís own party. Rep. Virgil H. Goode, Jr., Virginia, has announced plans to introduce a resolution asking the President not to submit the agreement to Congress. If the President goes ahead, Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona, will try to block it with another resolution.

And, according to the Washington Times, the Seniors Coalition, a seniors advocacy group, has joined the opposition with 387,000 petitions from angry members. "Itís a double cross that they do not understand ..." a spokesman asserted in the Times report

Did they say "double cross?" Consider this: The U.S. already has an active agreement with Canada; the deal with Mexico would give the U.S. totalization deals with both of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) "partners." But now the Bush Administration wants congressional action on another open border trade pact: the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which includes the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic."

Once CAFTA is approved, how could the U.S. possibly deny social security benefits to CAFTA countries, having already put Third World Mexico on the social security take?

Preposterous, yes. But the facts suggest that social security is not just being Mexicanized; itís being internationalized. Only Congress can stop it. Contact your Congressman at 1(877)762-8762 (toll free). Demand that he (or she) oppose the social security agreement with Mexico and support Congressman Ron Paulís HR858, which would reserve Americaís social security system for Americans Ė only! What a novel idea.

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March 8, 2005