- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 26, 2004

Foggy memories

Paul Alexander’s statement about being convinced of the truth of Sen. John Kerry’s claims because of the consistent stories told by the veterans on Mr. Kerry’s swift boat is suspect at best (“Diary refutes Kerry claim,” Page 1, Wednesday).

Witness stories that are all consistent usually are so because the witnesses are reading from the same script. In “real life,” witnesses to any event almost always differ, sometimes widely.

What’s so great about being able to recall what type of weapons were being used? My husband is 75 and can still recall, describe and identify weapon sounds from World War II in addition to his pre- and post-World War II hunting, trap shooting and pistol-shooting experiences.

Furthermore, those veterans not on Mr. Kerry’s boat probably had a better vantage point for seeing what happened than did those on the boat.

How come the accuracy of the memories of the people who were surrounding Mr. Kerry in Vietnam but who are not his supporters today are suspect, but those who support Mr. Kerry are credited with total historical accuracy, even though their numbers are dramatically smaller?

GRACE HOLMES

Las Vegas

A vision for the future

I was disappointed by the thrust of the article “Right wing sees betrayals” (Nation, yesterday), which gave the impression that I and other pro-family leaders were unhappy with the Republican Party platform.

Quite the contrary, I was very pleased to observe the platform hearings, which were among the least contentious debates in decades and which produced profoundlyconservative themes with respect to the family and securing victory in the war against terrorism.

The pro-life plank remains uncompromising in its support for the sanctity of life and was strengthened this year to reflect the ethical concerns of embryonic-stem-cell research.

The platform also adopted the president’s call for a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage. It even went a step further in supporting measures to restrict judicial activism regarding the benefits of marriage.

Is this document perfect? Of course not. No human instrument ever is. But the suggestion that conservatives feel betrayed, as the headline blared, I believe is a gross exaggeration and does not reflect my sentiments.

I am proud of the 2004 Republican Party platform and my role in shaping its pro-family,pro-life,pro-freedom themes. It is a strong platform, a solid foundation for President Bush’s re-election. I am confident the American people will embrace its vision for our future.

GARY L. BAUER

President

American Values

Washington

Cindy sells out

It’s sad that one-time fur foe Cindy Crawford has agreed to be the next spokeswoman for Blackglama furs (“Make mine mink,” Arts etc., Monday).

We understand that when models’ careers don’t pan out into TV or movies they become desperate to appear in anything, but surely Miss Crawford — who posed for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ catalog wearing a Todd Oldham faux fur hat (and little else) and signed our Models of Compassion petition vowing to “speak up for animals by refusing to wear fur” — didn’t need to stoop this low.

As one reporter quipped, maybe she “no longer thinks she looks that good naked.” With Miss Crawford doing the ads, perhaps Blackglama should change its slogan to “What Becomes a Has-Been Most?” While desperate furriers have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get washed-up models to pose for them, PETA has no trouble getting the likes of Charlize Theron (whose anti-fur PETA billboard debuts in October), Pamela Anderson, Kim Basinger, Pink, Christina Applegate and many more to appear in ads free of charge to defend animals against the violent fur trade.

DAN MATHEWS

Vice president of campaigns

People for the Ethical Treatment

of Animals

Norfolk

Sooner than you think

The Op-Ed column by Leanne Abdnor and Tim Penny (“Dollars and sense,” Aug. 19) was correct in pointing out that Social Security is facing a problem sooner than the Congressional Budget Office and others have wanted to admit. However, I fear they also are too optimistic about when we will start to face this problem.

In 2018, the Social Security system will stop collecting the surpluses that subsidize our other overspending. However, it is only until 2009 that Social Security surpluses will continue to grow — after that point, Social Security surpluses will begin to dwindle. Every year between 2009 and 2018, the budget subsidy from Social Security is expected to decline. For every billion dollars the subsidy falls, the federal appetite for spending will have to be weaned from Social Security surpluses.

When Social Security surpluses start to decline — long before they go into deficit — the rest of the federal budget will begin to feel the pain. There will be less subsidy for roads, the military, child nutrition, medical research and the thousands of other things on which we spend money, or we will have to borrow more money or raise taxes just to continue this spending spree. These difficult decisions will be made not a generation from now, but in 2009, just outside of the next presidential term. We must talk about Social Security reform on this urgent timetable. The year 2018 is just a moment when the cash flow changes from positive to negative. The party will be over long before 2018.

The question is: What do we do with those surpluses between now and then? I have introduced legislation that would permit people born since 1950 to deposit their entire 6.2 percent of their salary into a personal Social Security account. In these accounts, Americans can build real wealth instead of unrealistic expectations of benefits from a system doomed to failure.

Before we begin making difficult decisions about spending, borrowing and taxing, the first decision we should make is to begin pre-funding Social Security retirement with cash in personal accounts. With real assets in accounts, rather than more promises of benefits in the future, we can then face our obligations to those who already are retired and those near retirement. My legislation would continue Social Security retirement benefits for those born before 1950 and for those who do not choose to opt into personal accounts, and it would continue disability and old-age survivor benefits to be funded with the 6.2 percent of salary tax on employers.

My legislation also creates a fully tradable “recognition bond” that would pay a lump sum representing the benefits people have earned so far in the current system. They could sell this bond on open markets and then deposit the proceeds in their own accounts to continue growing in the market.

The last major component of my bill is a guarantee of 120 percent of poverty for those who do not accumulate enough assets in their accounts or face market losses.

There are those who claim such a bold proposal is the “third rail of politics — touch it and you die.” I don’t believe that for a moment. My legislation has more co-sponsors (14 original) than have ever been on a Social Security reform proposal. I think we have already been this successful because we have been so bold and do not shrink from making tough decisions.

The American people are ready to hear about this problem and want a solution that deals with it in a straightforward method.

REP. SAM JOHNSON

House of Representatives

Washington

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