Thursday, February 03, 2005

Bush sets out second-term goals

"Syria and Iran were singled out as nations that still exported terror.Returning to his inaugural address’ theme of spreading democracy, Bush hailed the success of Sunday’s elections in Iraq.“And the victory of freedom in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the war on terror, inspire democracy reformers from Damascus to Tehran, bring more hope and progress to a troubled region,” he said. In a challenge to Iran’s government, he told the country’s citizens: “As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.” (Scotsman)

"President Bush, in his State of the Union address Wednesday night, outlined his plan for redirecting the Social Security system to navigate through demographic obstacles that lie just ahead. Bush's speech marks the beginning of a much-needed, much-delayed debate about not only the future of Social Security but also other government programs that provide benefits for an aging population." (Indianapolis Star)

"Initial age 55 cutoff: There would be no changes in the Social Security program for retirees or workers born before 1950. The age cut-off reflects the president's promises not to change Social Security for current or near-retirees. Participation for workers now younger than 55 would be voluntary. Phase-in: Beginning in 2009, participants born from 1950 to 1965 could enroll in private accounts. In 2010, workers born from 1966 to 1978 could join. All younger remaining workers could sign up in 2011. The phase-in would help with an orderly implementation and allow the oldest workers the possibility of earning investment returns sooner.
Size of investment: Workers eventually could invest 4 percentage points of the current 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax. But it also would be phased in: There would be an initial cap of $1,000, which would be increased $100 annually to the full 4-percentage-point ceiling." (Seattle Times)

The first paragraph of US President George W Bush's first State of the Union address of his second term set the tone with a sense of confidence buoyed by elections in Iraq. It further developed the idealistic vision that he set out in his inaugural address two weeks ago with continued calls for dramatic change in the Middle East and a commitment to re-engage with the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. And he laid out ambitious domestic plans including his call for reforms to Social Security, the public pension scheme. But his foreign policy ambitions will be limited by progress in Iraq and his ambitious plans at home will be limited by the mounting US debt. (BBC News)

``Democrats are all for giving Americans more of a say and more choices when it comes to their retirement savings. But that doesn't mean taking Social Security's guarantee and gambling with it,'' said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. (...) Senate Democrats were sending Bush a letter Thursday urging him to limit borrowing in crafting Social Security legislation, saying it would be immoral to pass this debt onto future generations.
Administration officials acknowledged that the private accounts do not solve Social Security's long-term financial woes." (Guardian)

Welcome to Bush-World... The US foreign policy is as "neo-conservative" as ever. Behind this beautiful rethoric, it would be tempting to write pages and pages about the differences between theses theories and the real world. Better to leave this task to the world press. Here is a fine media monitoring from the BBC:
About the social security reforms, P. Kruman's editorial is quite enlightening. Thanks to this economist for bringing the issue back to Earth.
"Freedom" and "Democracy" are meaningful words for the 95% of the Earth who are not Americans. The thing is... 95% of this planet's population understand the concepts in a very different perpective.
People should be free to do whatever they want until they restrict other people's freedom.
People should be free to think whatever they want and have different opinions.
People should be free from violence and the threat of being killed etc.
On "freedom", invading a country to liberate its people from dictatorship may be justified if
1> This dictator is attacking another country
2> A genocide is taking place and the population is calling for help
Is it the case for Syria or Iran? The populations of these countries are not calling the US to invade their countries. Are they?
On "democracy": The consensus in the west is that democracy is defined as a multi-party system where the country's government is elected through a fair electoral process without any form of discriminations. This is the so-called "Western-style democracy".
In Asia, this form of democracy is far from being reality. Have you heard of any US plans to invade Singapore? They should. It's a one-party autocratic government.
This form of government may also become reality in Thailand. Fortunately, the country probably won't be taken over by a "coalition of the willing". I'll let you know if it ever happens.

More seriously, an agressive US foreign policy is fueling terrorism and we all suffer from it.


Scotsman, UK:
Indianapolis Star, IN:
Seattle Times, WA:
BBC News, UK:
Guardian, UK :,1280,-4775105,00.html


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