February 24, 2005

Jeb Hensarling Comes Face to Face with Reality

The Townhall was attended by a small but well informed group of about 25 people and Mr. Hensarling got his ass handed to him. What follows is based on Mrs. Monkey's notes and impressions, emphasis mine.

He started with a presentation and a chart package. Showed a big picture with his parents and him and stated they both collected social security. Showed a picture of his two kids and said he wanted to make sure they were taken care of.

Changing Demgraphics - showed the bodies like on Jon Stewart (2.23.05)

Life Expectancy 60 to 77

Cost of Doing Nothing

  • 10.4 Trillion
  • 30% Reduction in Benefits
  • 43% Increase in Payroll Taxes

Social Security Implicit Rates of Return

  • Grandparents 12%
  • parents - couldn't see figure
  • Born in 1960 2%
  • said that children now would reap 'negative returns or maybe, maybe 1%'

Direct Quotes

'I do not believe in raising taxes'

'Is it a crisis? I don't know, but President Clinton, now I said Clinton, called it a crisis. Let's say this; if you had a small fire in your backyard would you put it out or would you decide to go to the movies and wait until it engulfed your whole house'

'is there risk? yes. but it's riskier to leave your retirement money in Washington DC. They have been raided 59 times for things like parks in PA where the toilets don't work, studies on decorating dorm rooms etc. taxes have already been raised 20 times'

Principles for Strengthening Social Security

  • right to safe and secure retirement
  • recognize current system unstable
  • current or near retirement receive full benefits
  • voluntary accounts

Personal Security Accounts

  • Best of old and add new features
  • Keep Government backing
  • Guaranteed lifetime benefits
  • Progressive benefits
  • Completely voluntary
  • No impact on current or near retirement
  • Add investment in real assets
  • Add professional investment management (love that one)
  • Add worker ownership

Questions (as best I can remember)

Mrs Monkey: The GAO estimates that Soc Sec will have a 3.7 trillion shortfall over 75 years. Where does the 10.4 trillion dollar figure come from?

A: That is called an infinite horizon figure. in other words the cost to fix this permanently.

Q: What about the 2 trillion in start-up costs? Paul Krugman estimates that we would need to borrow 15 million. Alan Greenspan and Paul O'Neill both expressed concern over start up costs.

A: I've talked to Alan Greenspan and he's in favor. Cited some Greenspan report that shows this will reduce the debt over time. 'don't know the context of your numbers' 'don't believe those figures' 'If you could fix your car now for $350 or wait a year and pay $3500 for a new transmission which would you do?' 'Compare that 1 to 2 trillion cost to 10.4 trillion

This is where I piped in and asked how he could compare a 2 trillion cost now to a 10.4 trillion "infinate horizon' cost over more than 75 years. (at this point, the gentlemen to my left who had given me his business card: Kaufman County Commisioner District 3, I think. Reached over and took it back)

Mr Hensarlings rep then asked that we not interupt and I apologized and said that I was just really trying hard to understand.

He then said " I don't agree that we will have to borrow money. we'll grow government at a rate 50% faster than family income"

Q: Thanks for coming, I recognize that the internet has made your job much harder as we all came loaded with facts and figures (chuckle chuckle...no it's an opportunity) Aren't you asking seniors to pay for the costs of the war in Iraq and tax cuts for the rich?

At this point the guy at the end of the table got all red faced and started going off on how 'you people' want to pass this on to our children thus saving Jeb from answering.

Q: I work in the banking industry and I've seen what happens when people lose their life savings. You just attached your name to HR800 giving legal immunity to the Gun Industry. How do we know that you won't provide such immunity to the people responsible for managing these accounts?

(at this point, I noticed the first constable in the back of the room)

A: Started to go on and on about how he believed in the 2nd amendment.

Q: I'm not interested in the second ammendment

Jeb's guy then told her to be polite and she said she thought she was being polite but she wanted an answer.

A: We'll keep in place the government guarantee yada yada " I don't understand your question"

several people around the table said " I do" and one woman restated " she is concerned that the brokerage firms managing the accounts would not be held acountable'

A: tort reform blather. health care cost blather.

Q: I'm a Vietnam Vet over 55 but my wife is under 55. I'm concerned about the 2 trillion cost and don't see how these private

Jeb: "I call them personal"

...accounts will shore up the system.

At this point Jeb said next question would be the last question as he was running out of time and I noticed there were a few more people in the back of the room and 3 constables.

A: I don't believe we will have to borrow the money if we keep government spending in check.

Q: If Government spending is up 3.6% - isn't it up to congress to stop pork barrell spending isn't it up to our leadership to stop spending?

I don't think he even answered. he said he was out of time and was gone from the room before I could stand up.

Your tax dollars at work folks. A "Townhall" meeting where open dialogue and contradicting opinion attracts constables. Democracy in action, where long reaching change is met with obfuscation. Now, let's see how the "real press" covers this, if at all.

Posted by kerry at February 24, 2005 08:48 AM | TrackBack

How funny. If the "guy at the end of the table" you are talking about worked for Hensarling, I think I know who he is. He's his Athens area coordinator.

Also, Hensarling was supposed to have one of these "meetings" in my county today in Grand Saline (at 2 p.m.). I'll see if anything went "sour" there.

Posted by: Vince Leibowitz at February 24, 2005 01:02 PM

There is no such thing as informed voter - only red-blooded Americans and commie agitators.

And the increasing constable presence? Nice. Talk about pigs at the trough.

Posted by: Arvin Hill at February 24, 2005 04:30 PM

Excellent report. It was quite refreshing to get this much detail about a town hall meeting. Your effort here will serve many purposes, not the least of which is a fine demonstration of the effectiveness in making sure that information that would otherwise be ignored by corporate media is made available to the public.

Posted by: cwr at February 25, 2005 01:49 AM

Personally...on one hand I get afraid at how heavy handed their being in these "town hall" meetings...on the other hand maybe the people of this country need a wake up call.

Posted by: Liberal AND Proud at February 25, 2005 08:08 AM

Is there risk? Yes. But it's riskier to leave your retirement money in Washington DC.... followed by....We'll keep in place the government guarantee.

This to me is the really fun part of the Republican SS debate: You fucked up! You trusted us with the Social Security Trust Fund and looked what happened -- it's empty. Now, trust us, we'll keep in place the government guarantee on your personal retirement accounts.

Yeah. Give the keys to your older brother's Caddy to Boone and Otter just one more time.

Posted by: Grace Nearing at February 25, 2005 05:03 PM

Mrs. Monkey, thank you for this write up. I heard pretty much the same thing through the grapevine.

I live in Forney, and would love to meet you and Mr. Monkey. I was going to attend and was hoping to meet some like minded individuals.


Posted by: Maverick at March 1, 2005 10:29 AM

I attended the same meeting asking "Aren't you asking seniors to pay for the costs of the war in Iraq and tax cuts for the rich?".
It was pleasing to hear that most townhall meetings through the USA went the same as ours.
As you know the Republicans control most of the offices in Kaufmn county and unfortantely some are very right wing and refused to listen to the Democratic side of an issue.
We need help in our local party, anyone interested please contact me.
George Lawshe (George@Lawshe.com)
County Chair
Kaufman County Democratic Party

Posted by: George Lawshe at March 1, 2005 06:52 PM

Thankyou for your post about Rep. Hensarling. I was not certain that I would be voting for him in November. Now I am positive that he will get my vote.

Posted by: James Colvin at March 30, 2006 02:57 AM
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