President George W. Bush's secret plan for Social Security has just been released to the public in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by TREA Senior Citizens League, a million-member seniors advocacy group.
For years the president carried on an energetic public relations campaign to promote his plan to privatize part of Social Security, but he kept under White House lock and key the "totalization" agreement his administration secretly made with Mexico in June 2004.
Is that any way to run the government, or to commit billions of taxpayer dollars? Maybe we have been needing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to demand "the most honest, most open" government in history.
If and when Bush personally signs this agreement, it will automatically become law without any congressional action. The law that would have allowed one House of Congress to reject it by a vote within 60 days is generally thought to violate the Supreme Court's 1983 decision in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, which declared unconstitutional a one-House veto of a president's action.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., has introduced Senate Bill 43 to require totalization agreements to be treated like bilateral trade agreements. His bill would permit a totalization agreement to go into effect only if affirmatively passed by both houses of Congress.
Unless we live in some sort of Bush dictatorship, that's the very least of what totalization should require. It ought to be considered a treaty and require approval by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate.
Totalization is the bureaucratic buzzword for the plan to put millions of illegal Mexican workers into the U.S. Social Security system. They would collect U.S. benefits based on their U.S earnings under false or stolen Social Security numbers plus alleged earnings in Mexico.
U.S. citizens must work 10 years to be eligible for Social Security benefits, but the totalization agreement would allow Mexicans to qualify with only 18 months of work in the United States, and pretend to make up the difference by assuming work in Mexico. It is highly doubtful that the illegal immigrants ever paid into a Mexican system for eight and a half years.
It could be "virtual" work or "virtual" payments (just like the "virtual" fence proposed for the U.S.-Mexico border, or the "virtual" law that promised to build one).
A 2003 Government Accountability Office report tactfully declined to comment on "the integrity of Mexico's social security data" and warned that the cost to U.S. taxpayers is "highly uncertain."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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