- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

On its way to bankruptcy, Social Security will get there a bit sooner if President Bush, Republican senators (and prospective presidential candidates) John McCain, Chuck Hagel and Sam Brownback and the overwhelming majority of Democratic senators get their way.

As Stephen Dinan reported in The Washington Times yesterday, the Bush administration has reached an agreement with Mexico that would permit illegal aliens, after they are granted amnesty in the future, to claim Social Security benefits for the work they performed while in the United States illegally, even if the illegal aliens committed felonies by using fraudulent Social Security documents to obtain their jobs.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the TREA Senior Citizens League, a Social Security advocacy group, recently obtained a document detailing the U.S.-Mexican deal, which was reached in 2004. The agreement has not yet become law. Nor should it.

After signing the agreement, Mr. Bush must then submit it to Congress, which has 60 days to vote it down. It would automatically become law if Congress does not reject it. Opposing this deal should be an easy decision. But last year the Republican-led Senate narrowly rejected an amendment by Sen. John Ensign that would have prevented this travesty.

During the Senate debate on immigration reform in May, Mr. Ensign proposed that no illegal alien whose status would be adjusted by the Senate bill be permitted to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity. “There was a felony they were committing, and now they can’t be prosecuted” under the terms of the Senate immigration bill, Mr. Ensign argued at the time. “That sounds like amnesty to me.” On top of amnesty for the felony, the bill would also grant them Social Security benefits, as would the deal negotiated by the Bush administration with Mexico.

In addition to Messrs. McCain, Hagel and Brownback, other still-serving Republicans who opposed the Ensign amendment, which lost by a 50-49 vote, included Sens. Lindsey Graham, Richard Lugar, Mel Martinez, Arlen Specter, Ted Stevens and George Voinovich.

Beyond the Senate’s reckless decision, which the president, we now know, has supported for years, Social Security passed two other worrisome milestones last year. First, the “assets” in the Orwellian-named Social Security trust funds surpassed the $2 trillion level in 2006. Of course, every dime of those trillions will have to be redeemed from general tax revenues when baby boomers, and, if the president gets his way, former illegal aliens begin depleting the trust funds in about 10 years. Second, when Social Security trustees release their annual report this spring, they almost certainly will report that the present value of Social Security’s unfunded liabilities now exceeds $5 trillion. It is simply incomprehensible that the president and so many other Republicans want to add to Social Security’s $7 trillion fiscal milestone.

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