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News Friday, Jun 17 2016

George W. To Fundraise For His Social Security "Privatization Champion" Portman

Jun 17, 2016

For better or worse (we all know how it turned out for Jeb!), former President George W. Bush is “helping” vulnerable GOP senators keep their seats this cycle, including Senator Rob Portman. Portman has plenty of reasons to be less than thrilled about his former employer fundraising for him.

The senator worked for the Bush Administration from 2005 to 2007, first as a U.S. Trade Representative and then as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. During the latter, Portman became a Social Security “privatization champion.” In addition, in 2001, Portman worked as “a leading spokesman” for Bush’s efforts to privatize earned benefits, what could’ve been “the largest windfall gain in American financial history” for Wall Street.

Portman would like Ohio seniors to forget about his record of putting their benefits at risk, but with President Bush joining him on the trail his time as “privatization champion” will haunt him through November.


Portman Worked As George W. Bush Trade Representative And Budget Director

Portman, “At The Center Of Virtually Every Policy Decision” In The Bush Administration, Had “An Enviable Abundance” Of Ready Access To The President While Serving As OMB Director. According to a profile on Portman published by Scripps Howard News Service, “In a town where influence is sometimes measured in terms of prestigious office real estate and ready access to the president, Portman has an enviable abundance of both. Portman marked his first 100 days as the White House budget director on Sept. 6, a job that dictates almost daily meetings with the president and places him both literally and figuratively at the center of virtually every policy decision.” [Scripps Howard News Service, 9/5/06]

March 17, 2005: Bush Nominated Portman, “One Of His Closest Friends In Congress,” To Be US Trade Representative. According to the New York Times, “President Bush announced on Thursday that he had selected Representative Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who is one of his closest friends in Congress, to be the next United States trade representative. Mr. Portman, a former international trade lawyer and one of the few Republican leaders in the House who works well with Democrats, was hailed as a strong choice by lawmakers of both parties and by many trade groups. In making his announcement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Mr. Bush referred to Mr. Portman as a ‘good friend, a decent man and a skilled negotiator.’” [New York Times, 3/18/05]

April 2006: Bush Nominated Portman as OMB Director. According to CNN, “In a move in part meant to ease tensions between the White House and Congress, President Bush has nominated former Republican lawmaker Rob Portman to be budget director.” [CNN, 4/17/06]

2001: Portman Supported A Partial Privatization Of Social Security

2001: Portman Voted Against Blocking The Proposals Of President Bush’s Social Security Reform Commission From Being Implemented, Including Its Proposals For Partially Privatizing The Program. In July 2001, Portman voted against an amendment to appropriations legislation that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “prohibit[ed] the use of funds for carrying out the final report of President Bush’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security.” According to the commission’s website, it “was asked to make recommendations to modernize and restore fiscal soundness to Social Security, using six guiding principles: Modernization must not change Social Security benefits for retirees or near-retirees. The entire Social Security surplus must be dedicated only to Social Security. Social Security payroll taxes must not be increased. The government must not invest Social Security funds in the stock market. Modernization must preserve Social Security`s disability and survivors insurance programs. Modernization must include individually controlled, voluntary personal retirement accounts, which will augment Social Security.” The House rejected the proposed amendment to the House version of the FY 2002 Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act by a vote of 188 to 238. [House Vote 273, 7/25/01; Congressional Quarterly, 7/25/01; Congressional Actions,H.R. 2590; President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, Accessed 2/24/14]

Portman Was “A Leading Spokesman” For Bush’s Proposal To Create Private Social Security Accounts

Congressional Quarterly: “Portman Served As A Leading Spokesman For Bush’s Proposal To Establish Private Social Security Accounts For Younger Americans.” According to Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor, “During the presidential campaign, Portman served as a leading spokesman for Bush’s proposal to establish private Social Security accounts for younger Americans.” [Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor, 1/5/01]

Privatizing Social Security Would Have Sent Billions To Financial Institutions

Social Security Privatization Would “Send Billions Of New Dollars Coursing Through Financial Institutions Like State Street.” According to the Boston Globe, “That’s because State Street is pushing the privatization of Social Security. It is seeking the substantial conversion of the huge, New Deal-era benefits program from an insurance system to an investment vehicle, one that would let participants take bigger risks and reap bigger rewards by putting much of their retirement money in the stock market, and one that would, not incidentally, send billions of new dollars coursing through financial institutions like State Street.” [Boston Globe, 10/24/96]

A Study By A University Of Chicago Economist Found Wall Street Firms Would Reap “The Largest Windfall Gain In American Financial History” Form Private Social Security Accounts. According to the Washington Post, “A study by University of Chicago economist Austan D. Goolsbee last September concluded that Wall Street firms would reap ‘the largest windfall gain in American financial history’ from private Social Security accounts — about $940 billion in fees in constant dollars over the next 75 years. The SIA responded to Goolsbee with its own study in December, arguing that Wall Street firms would earn much less — from $39 billion to $279 billion in constant dollars over the same period.” [Washington Post, 3/8/05]

Plain Dealer: “Portman Was Unquestionably A Privatization Champion.” According to the Plain Dealer, “It is indisputable that Portman supported Bush’s proposal to allow Americans to put part of their Social Security contributions into private accounts. Americans would be able to invest in stocks, bonds, government securities or stay out of the accounts entirely. […] Still, Portman was unquestionably a privatization champion, saying in 2005 that it was reasonable to expect a 5 percent annual return on investment, ‘which I think is conservative.’ But that’s not the same as having a current ‘plan to tax, slash and privatize these benefits,’ as the Fisher campaign suggests Portman has now.” [Plain Dealer, 8/3/10]

As “Top Fiscal Advisor” To Bush Administration Portman Wrote A Budget Calling For Social Security Privatization

Portman Was Bush’s Top Fiscal Advisor As OMB Director

Stephen Koff: Portman Was The “Top Fiscal Adviser” To Bush During Time Budget Was Written. According to the Northeast Ohio Media Group, “Portman’s job as OMB director was to advise the White House on all spending and taxing decisions, and to make recommendations as the top fiscal adviser. What were the long-term costs? Where could the White House find savings and achieve the Bush goal of a more efficient government, a goal Portman shared?” [Northeast Ohio Media Group, 8/11/12]

Portman And Bush’s FY 2008 Budget Included Voluntary Social Security Privatization

2007: President Bush’s FY 2008 Budget Proposal Included Voluntary Personal Social Security Accounts. According to President Bush’s FY 2008 budget, “The President is committed to strengthening the Social Security system and has reiterated his commitment to a bipartisan reform process in which participants are encouraged to bring different options for strengthening Social Security to the table. The Budget supports the proposals the President has put forward to date. Under these proposals, Social Security would include voluntary personal accounts funded by a portion of the worker’s Social Security payroll taxes. The Budget includes the estimated impact from the creation of such personal accounts. In 2012, the first year of the accounts, contributions will be capped at four percent of Social Security taxable earnings up to a $1,300 limit, increasing by $100 each year through 2017.” [President Bush’s FY 2008 Budget Proposal Social Security Administration, Accessed 5/26/16]

  • Rob Portman Was The White House Budget Director For This Budget. According to USA Today, “After a little more than a year on the job, White House budget director Rob Portman said Tuesdayhe’s headed home to Ohio. Portman, a former congressman representing Cincinnati, has served in the White House as director of the Office of Management and Budget since May 2006. He served as U.S. trade representative for a year before that.” [USA Today, 6/19/07]

Liberals And Conservatives Agreed The Proposal Was “Privatization”

2005: Democrats Noted That Moving To “Personal Accounts” Would In Effect Partially Privatize The System. According to the New York Times, In the Social Security debate, one of the most ferocious struggles is over language, whether President Bush is proposing to create ‘personal’ or ‘private’ accounts in the program, whether he is really proposing the ‘privatization’ of Social Security.  […]  Democrats say that amounts to a fundamental revision of the 70-year-old program, draining huge sums of money from it, reducing the government’s role and exposing individuals to far more risk — in short, at least partly ‘privatizing’ it.” [New York Times, 3/22/05]

The Cato Institute Also Referred To Personal Accounts As Privatization Prior To The Debate. According to the New York Times, “Democrats and their allies counter that such individual investment accounts have been described as a form of ‘privatization’ for many years — by the very people advocating them. The Cato Institute, the research center that has long pushed for the accounts, called its effort the Project on Social Security Privatization until a few years ago. Michael Tanner, an expert on the issue at Cato, said the organization decided to change the name independently of the Republican Party, but added, ‘We were all probably reading the same polls.’ Peter Orszag of the Brookings Institution, a critic of Mr. Bush’s approach to private accounts, said: ‘I do find this a bit Orwellian. It’s taking a term and saying you’re not allowed to use this, even though it was widely used for years.’” [New York Times, 3/22/05]

Published: Jun 17, 2016

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