President Clinton claimed the high ground with his State of the Union vow to put aside every penny of any budget "surplus" to replenish depleted Social Security coffers.
The promise went over big with Americans rightfully concerned that, without congressional action, the nation's most popular entitlement program will start going broke in about 12 years when the huge post-World War II baby-boom generation begins going into retirement.
The only problem is, Clinton's Social Security promise is as empty as his pledge of several weeks ago to publicly explain his relationship with ex-intern Monica Lewinsky.
In fact, the move had nothing to with saving Social Security -- and everything to do with a public relations ploy to shoot down the GOP-led Congress' plans for a big tax cut.
For if Clinton were serious, he'd propose a budget mechanism to ensure the surpluses will be saved for Social Security. Where's that proposal?
Also, if the president was really being straight with the people, he'd tell them that ever since Social Security was last "fixed" in the 1980s, the payroll tax has been collecting about $100 billion more a year than the program pays out.
So why doesn't he simply protect this existing surplus? The answer is because he's already using it to balance the budget. If he didn't, the deficit would still be running $100 billion or so a year.
The amazing thing is the Republican leadership isn't explaining Clinton's phony baloney to the public either. The GOP is so intimidated by the president's political skills that it dare not take him on. They fear a critique of the Clinton proposal will be interpreted as an attack on Social Security.
If the GOP doesn't go after "The Great Prevaricator" when he lies, they're ceding the entire political agenda to him. What good is a loyal opposition that doesn't oppose?
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