Why Congress Can't Be Trusted

There are issues about Social Security, our national Ponzi scheme, in addition to its pending bankruptcy. Read the Social Security Act, Section 208 [42 U.S.C. 408], paragraph 8 that says, "Whoever discloses, uses, or compels the disclosure of the social security number of a person in violation of the laws of the United States shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both." During the 1930s, many Americans were concerned that Social Security numbers would become national identity numbers. Congress put in paragraph 8 to allay their fears. My Social Security card issued in 1949 says "Not For Identification Purposes." Today, there's little one can do without giving his Social Security number whether it's getting a driver's license, filing tax returns, opening a bank or stock account, getting a job or even bringing a baby home from the hospital. That's a standard practice of Congress. They say one thing just to get a law passed. Then they change it to something we would have never accepted when the law was first written.

Most Americans think they have a legal right to the "contributions" they made into Social Security. They don't. In Flemming v. Nestor (1960), Ephram Nestor sued the federal government, claiming he had a right to collect Social Security benefits since he had paid his Social Security taxes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workers have no legal right to Social Security saying, "to engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of accrued property rights would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever changing conditions which it demands." That means Congress can cut or eliminate Social Security benefits anytime it pleases regardless of worker contributions. That decision was consistent with the court's earlier opinion in Helverigh v. Davis (1937) where the Court pointed out that Social Security was not an insurance program: "The proceeds of both the employee and employer taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like any other internal revenue generally, and are not earmarked in any way." That means Social Security is a tax like any other tax. Congress can spend as it pleases regardless of what promises were made back in 1935 when Social Security began.

To add insult to injury politicians feed us lie after lie about the Social Security trust fund but they are increasingly being cornered into admitting the fraud. The Office of Management and Budget in its "Budget of United States, Fiscal Year 2000," says, "These [Trust Fund] balances are available to finance future benefit payments . . . but only in a bookkeeping sense. . . . They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits. Instead, they are claims on the Treasury that, when redeemed will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures." That, ladies and gentlemen, translates into saying there is no trust fund.

The White House and many Congressmen say they want to use what they're calling a budget surplus to save Social Security rather than across-the-board tax cuts. They're lying and they're going to get away with it because most Americans can't or don't bother to think. What Congress really wants, in their so-called saving Social Security scheme, is to keep money coming to Washington, in the name of Social Security, so they can spend it on bread and circuses as they've done in the past and Americans are buying into their ruse.

Walter E. Williams


March 15,1999

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