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Sunday, December 19, 2004
The humanity of Kurt Vonnegut: A one-man show By NANCY REDWINE SENTINEL STAFF WRITER Tonight Glen Williamson plays Stanl... December 9, 2004
"WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush was chosen as Time's 2004 Person of the Year for
Bush was named "for reshaping the debate until the choices bled,for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes - and ours - on his faith in the power of leadership."
"reframing reality to match his design," the magazine said Sunday.
Bush was named "for reshaping the debate until the choices bled,for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes - and ours - on his faith in the power of leadership," the magazine said on its website."
"Reframing reality to match his design"...that about says it...
What a total, arrogant, full of hubris buffoon...or as my friend George calls him...."Monkey boy"
"WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush was chosen as Time's 2004 Person of the Year for
Bush was named "for reshaping the debate until the choices bled,for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes - and ours - on his faith in the power of leadership."
"reframing reality to match his design," the magazine said Sunday.
Bush was named "for reshaping the debate until the choices bled,for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes - and ours - on his faith in the power of leadership," the magazine said on its website."
"Reframing reality to match his design"...that about says it...
What a total, arrogant, full of hubris buffoon...or as my friend George calls him...."Monkey boy"
January 20, 2005
in Washington DC
initiated by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Sunday, December 19
1:27 pm ET on C-Span 1
Leaders from the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and others involved in the January 20 Counter-Inaugural Protest in Washington DC held a press conference today (December 17). The press conference was broadcast live on C-Span 1 at 1 pm ET, and rebroadcast on C-Span 1 at 8:13 pm ET and 11:45 pm ET on Friday, December 17, and at 5:15 am ET on Saturday, December 18. It will be broadcast for a fifth time on Sunday, December 19 at 1:27 pm ET on C-Span 1.
Additional broadcast times are likely and can be found on the C-Span website schedule. Please note that all times are subject to change - so please check the schedule regularly. The program is called "Inaugural Parade Protests - Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.)".
Programs can also be viewed on the web and heard on the radio.
Remarks by President Bush and Panel Members at the White House Economic Summit: Financial Challenges for Today and Tomorrow
One word describes the comments and statements
of those in attendance....BIZARRE!
Transcript from Whitehouse.gov
" WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of
remarks by President Bush and panel members at the White House Economic
Summit: Financial Challenges for Today and Tomorrow:
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
9:32 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you all for coming.
Last night I had the honor of attending a reception for those who have
participated in these series of panels, and I had a chance to thank them. I
said something I think is true, which is, citizens can actually effect policy
in Washington. In other words, I think people who end up writing laws listen
to the voices of the people who -- and can be affected by citizen
participation. So I want to thank you all for doing this.
We're talking about significant issues over the course of these couple of
days. We'll talk about an important issue today, which is, how do we keep the
economy growing; how do we deal with deficits. And I want to thank you all
for sharing your wisdom about how to do so.
One thing is for certain: In all we do, we've got to make sure the
economy grows. One of the reasons why we have a deficit is because the
economy stopped growing. And as you can tell from the previous four years, I
strongly believe that the role of government is to create an environment that
encourages capital flows and job creation through wise fiscal policy. And as
a result of the tax relief we passed, the economy is growing. And one of the
things that I know we need to do is to make sure there's certainty in the tax
code -- not only simplification of the tax code, but certainty in the tax
code. So I'll be talking to Congress about -- that we need to make sure there
is permanency in the tax relief we passed, so people can plan.
If the deficit is an issue -- which it is -- therefore, it's going to
require some tough choices on the spending side. In other words, the strategy
is going to be to grow the economy through reasonable tax policy, but to make
sure the deficit is dealt with by being wise about how we spend money. That's
where Josh comes in -- he's the -- as the Director of the OMB, he gets to help
us decide where the tough choices will be made. I look forward to working
with Congress on fiscal restraint. And it's not going to be easy. It turns
out appropriators take their titles seriously. (Laughter.)
Our job is to work with them, which we will, to bring some fiscal
restraint -- continue to bring fiscal restraint -- after all, non-defense
discretionary spending -- non-defense, non-homeland discretionary spending has
declined from 15 percent in 2001 to less than 1 percent in the appropriations
bill I just signed, which is good progress. What I'm saying is we're going to
submit a tough budget, and I look forward to working with Congress on the
Secondly, I fully recognize, and this administration recognizes, there --
we have a deficit when it comes to entitlement programs, unfunded liabilities.
And I want to thank the experts, and the folks here, who understand that. The
first issue is to explain to Congress and the American people the size of the
problem -- and I suspect Congressman Penny will do that, as well as Dr. Roper
-- and the problems in both Social Security and Medicare.
The issues of baby boomers like us retiring, relative to the number of
payers into the system, should say to Congress and the American people, "We
have a problem." And the fundamental question that faces government, are we
willing to confront the problem now or pass it on to future Congresses and
future generations. I made a declaration to the American people that now is
the time to confront Social Security. And so I am looking
forward to working with members of both chambers and both parties to confront
this issue today before it becomes more acute.
And by doing so, we will send a message not only to the American people
that we're here for the right reason, but we'll send a message to the
financial markets that we recognize we have an issue with both short-term
deficits and the long-term deficits of unfunded liabilities to the entitlement
And I want to thank the panelists here for helping to create awareness,
which is the first step toward solving a problem. The first step in
Washington if you're interested in helping is to convince people that there is
a problem that needs to be addressed. And once we have achieved that
objective, then there will be an interesting dialogue about how to solve the
I've got some principles that I've laid out. And, first, on Social
Security, it's very important for seniors to understand nothing will change.
In other words, nobody is going to take away your check. You'll receive that
which has been promised. Secondly, I do not believe we ought to be raising
payroll taxes to achieve the objective of a sound Social Security system.
Thirdly, I believe younger workers ought to be able to take some of their own
payroll taxes and set them up in a personal savings account, which will earn a
better rate of return, encourage ownership and savings, and provide a new way
of -- let me just say, reforming -- modernizing the system to reflect what
many workers are already experiencing in America, the capacity to manage your
own asset base that government cannot take away.
So with those principles in mind, I'm open-minded -- (laughter) -- with
the members of Congress. (Laughter and applause.)
Anyway, thank you all for coming. I'm looking forward to the discussion.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Mr. President, thank you. Thank you for convening us.
It warms my budget heart -- (laughter) -- that you've taken the time to come
and talk about fiscal responsibility, which is so important, especially at
this time. We've come through some tough years, Mr. President, during your
As you entered office the economy was entering recession, we had the
attacks of 9/11, we've had the war on terror, we've had corporate scandals
that undermined confidence in the business community. All of those, together,
took a great toll on our economy, and especially on our budget situation, as
you mentioned. And we've started to turn it around. The economy is well out
of recession, it's growing strongly, as I think our panelists will talk about.
And as a result of that we are seeing a dramatically improving budget
We originally projected our 2004 deficit to be about 4.5 percent of GDP,
and when we got the final numbers just a few weeks ago, it was down to 3.6
percent of GDP, a dramatic improvement. Now, that's still too large, but it's
headed in the right direction. You mentioned, Mr. President, the 2005
spending bills that you just signed last week. I think those have to be
regarded as a fiscal success, because you called on the Congress almost a year
ago to pass those spending bills with growth of less than 4 percent overall,
and especially to keep the non-national security related portion of that
spending below 1 percent, and they delivered. And that's the bill that you
signed just last week. We're working now, Mr. President, as you know, on the
2006 budget. And I'm hopeful that we will keep that momentum of spending
What I think we will be able to show when we present your budget, about
six or seven weeks from now, is that we are ahead of pace to meet your goal of
cutting the deficit in half over the next five years. And I think that's very
important. And I think our panelists will talk a little bit about why that
So let's step back a little bit from the Budget Director's preoccupations
and talk more broadly about the economy. Our first panelist is Jim Glassman,
who is senior U.S. economist at JP Morgan Chase. He's a frequent commentator
in the financial press; I think well-known in the financial community.
And Jim, let me open it with you and ask you to talk about how the budget
situation is related to the economy overall, because that's really what people
MR. GLASSMAN: All right. Thanks, Josh. Thanks, President Bush, for
inviting us here to participate in this discussion. It's a privilege.
The federal budget is tied very closely to the fortunes of the economy.
When the economy is down, revenues are down. When the economy comes back,
revenues come back. In the last several years, we've seen that link very
closely. The economy slowed down, revenues dried up, the budget deficit
widened. It's happened many times before. And in Wall Street, Wall Street
understands this link between the economy and the budget, and that's why -- we
anticipate that these circumstances are going to be temporary, and that's why
long-term interest rates today are at the lowest level in our lifetime, even
though we have a budget deficit that's widened.
And in fact, now, with the economy on the mend, the revenues are coming
back, and the budget deficit appears to us to be turning the corner. So I
think the prospects are looking quite good for the budgets going into in the
next several years.
Now to me, the link between the economy and the budget tells you there's
an important message here, and that is: Policies that enhance our growth
potential are just as important for our long-run fiscal health as are policies
to reform Social Security and health care reform. We know how to do this,
because over the last several decades, we've been reforming our economy --
deregulating many businesses, breaking down the barriers to trade. And it's
no surprise that countries all around the world are embracing free market
principles. Free markets is the formula that has built the U.S. economy to be
the economic powerhouse that it is.
Now, I realize the last several years have been challenging for a lot of
folks, and it's hard for folks to step back and appreciate the amazing things
that are going on in the U.S. economy when they're struggling with this, with
the current circumstances. But I have to tell you, what we are watching
around the U.S. economy is quite extraordinary, and I would like to highlight
two things in particular that are important features of what's going on in the
U.S. economy, because it tells us -- that basic message is it tells us that
we're on the right paths, and number two, it tells us how we might build on
the policies that are helping to encourage growth.
The first important observation: productivity. Productivity in the U.S.
economy is growing almost three times as fast as the experts anticipated
several years ago, a decade ago. Now, we know why that's happening: Economic
reform has strength competition; the competition has unleashed innovation;
that innovation is driving down the cost of technology; and businesses are
investing in tools that allow us to do our jobs more efficiently. Why that's
important? Because most of us believe that what's driving this productivity
is information technology.
Now, in my mind when we're at an extraordinary moment like this with rapid
changes in technology, it opens up a lot of frontiers. Who is it that brings
that technology and creates growth? Who is that drives the economy? It's
small businesses. That's where the dynamic heart of the economy is. And so
policies that focus on making the business environment user-friendly for small
businesses, like the tax reform, are an important element of building on this
productivity performance that's going on, and building on the information
Second important aspect of what's going on in the U.S. economy --
everybody knows we faced an incredible number of shocks in the last several
years. These shocks, which, by the way, destroyed almost half of the stock's
market value in a short period of time, for a moment, were potentially as
devastating as the shocks that triggered the Great Depression. And yet, the
experts tell us the recession we just suffered in the last several years was
the mildest recession in modern times. That tells you something about the
resilience of the U.S. economy. It tells you that we have a very flexible
economy to absorb these kinds of shocks. And I personally think that this is
the result of a lot of the reforms that we've been putting in place in the
last several decades. It has made us much more resilient.
I find this an even more incredible event because when you think about it,
we had very little help around the world. The U.S. economy was carrying most
of the load during this time. Japan, the number two economy, was trapped by
deflation. Many of our new partners in East Asia have linked the U.S.
economy, and they're depending on their linkage with the U.S. economy to bring
-- in hopes of a better future. The European region has been very slow
growing. They've been consumed by their own problems. So, frankly, we've
been in a very delicate place in the last several years; the U.S. economy was
the main engine that was driving this. And yet, we had this incredible
performance. I think it's quite important.
Now, when you ask economists to think about the future, where we're likely
to go, it's very natural -- the natural tendency is to believe that we're
going to be slowing down eventually -- and we can give you all kinds of
reasons why this is going to happen -- demographics, productivity slows down.
My guess is we would have told you this story 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 100
And I think what's quite incredible -- I'm, frankly, somewhat skeptical of
this vision that we all have, because, if you think about it, we've been
growing 3.5 percent to 4 percent per year since the Civil War. If we can
match that performance in the next 50 years -- and I don't see why that's so
hard to do, given the kinds of things we are discovering about our economy and
the kinds of benefits we see from all this reform -- then I think the fiscal
challenge that we see in our mind's eye will be a lot less daunting than is
So, of course, I don't want to say that growth can solve all our problems.
It won't. There clearly are challenges on the fiscal side, and it's important
that we strengthen the link between personal effort and reward. And that's
why it's right this forum should be focusing on Social Security reform and
health care reform. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: May I say something?
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Mr. President. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Laughter.) Who says my Cabinet does
everything I tell them to? (Laughter.)
You know, it's interesting, you talked about the Great Depression, and if
I might toot our horn a little bit, one of my predecessors raised taxes and
implemented protectionist policies in the face of an economic downturn, and as
a result, there was 10 years of depression. We chose a different path, given
a recession. We cut taxes and worked to open up markets. And as you said,
the recession was one of the shallowest.
And the reason I bring that up is that wise fiscal policy is vital in
order to keep confidence in our markets and economic vitality growing. And
that's one of the subjects we'll be talking to Congress about, which is wise
fiscal policy. And that is the direct connection between the budget and
spending and confidence by people who are willing to risk capital, and
therefore provide monies necessary to grow our job base.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Mr. President, let's talk a little bit about how
investors see those issues that you and Jim Glassman have just been talking
about. Liz Ann Sonders is chief investment strategist to Charles Schwab and
Company. She's a regular contributor to TV and print media on the market
issues that investors care about.
And Liz Ann, let me just open it to you and ask you, how do investors see
those broad macroeconomic issues that Jim was just talking about
MS. SONDERS: Thanks, Josh. Thanks, Mr. President. I do spend a lot of
time out on the road talking to individual investors. And I will say that the
deficit issue is probably, if not the number one, certainly in the top three
questions I get. I think there is a terrific amount of misunderstanding,
though, about the nature of deficits, how you get there, how do you get out of
a deficit situation, the cause and effect aspects of it, and I'll talk about
that in a moment.
And we know that higher deficits are a burden on future taxpayers, but I
think what, in particular, the market would like to see is the process by
which we go about fixing this problem. And I think the markets are less
concerned about the number itself and don't have some grand vision of an
immediate surplus, but the process by which we solve that problem.
There's a lot of ways to do that. It is all about choice. And certainly,
there's one theory, that the only way to solve it is to raise taxes. I don't
happen to be in that camp, and I would absolutely agree with Jim and certainly
with this administration that the policies absolutely have to be pro-growth.
And I think the other benefit that we have right now, and Marty Feldstein
talked about this yesterday, the difference between the Waco Summit and this
conference today as representing a very strong economy right now versus a
couple of years ago. And what that allows you to do is have this much
stronger platform from which you can make a sometimes tougher decision. And I
think that's a very important set of circumstances right now. I would agree
with Jim, also, at the bond markets perception of this, the fact that long-
term interest rates are low so we have at least have that camp of investors
telling you that maybe the risks aren't quite high as some of the pessimists
Forecasting is also difficult. I know your Administration suggested that
going beyond five years is a tough task. And it is. The market, however,
builds itself on making forecasts for the future, and often times will develop
a consensus about something, and I will say that I think the consensus is one
maybe of a little bit -- maybe not pessimism, but not a lot of optimism from a
budget deficit perspective. So, I think the opportunity comes with showing
some effort. And you can really turn the psychology of the market very, very
quickly under a circumstance where maybe market participants are actually
pleasantly surprised by the turn of events.
Typically, when you look back in history, and you look at processes by
which we've improved a deficit situation, those that have been accompanied by
better economic growth have typically been those where the focus has been on
spending restraint, entitlement reform. Those times where we have improved
the deficit, but it's been in conjunction with weaker economic growth are
typically those periods where tax increases have been the process by which we
have gotten there.
And I also think that many investors misunderstand the relationship
between deficits and interest rates, and there is a theory building now that
higher deficits automatically mean higher interest rates. Well, case in
point, it's just the most recent experience, but we can even go back to the
late '90s -- the reason why we went from deficit to surplus was because the
economy was so strong. Because the economy was strong, the Federal Reserve
was raising interest rates, the reason why we went into deficit was because
the economy got weak, which is the reason why the Federal Reserve had to lower
interest rates. So you have to understand, again, the cause and effect here.
The path of least resistance, of course, is to make everybody happy. But
something has to give. You've all talked about this, the "no free lunch"
idea. But I'm just a strong believer that entitlement reform and long-term
priorities take precedent right now over short-term fixes, certainly if it
required tax increases. And I think that, Mr. President, you talked about
having political capital, I'll go back to this idea that we now have economic
capital that allows us to not disregard the short-term fixes for the deficit
here, but really take this opportunity for long-term structural reform.
I'm a big believer in personal accounts, empowering investors. My firm
built by "the Man," Chuck Schwab, is all about empowering individual
investors. And I think these long-term adjustments that need to be made,
which is really a part of this whole conference, are so important right now.
And I think that's absolutely what the market wants to see.
THE PRESIDENT: Good job. You're not suggesting that economic forecasts
are as reliable as exit polling, are you? (Laughter.)
MS. SONDERS: I'm not going there. (Laughter.)
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Mr. President, I'm going to move on. (Laughter.) I'm
glad that Liz Ann raised the distinction, as you did in your opening remarks
between our short-term picture and our long-term picture. Our short-term
picture is, indeed, looking a lot better. I think we'll be able to show a
very clear path toward your goal of cutting the deficit in half over the next
five years. But the long-term picture is very challenging.
We're very honored to have with us Tim Penny, who is a professor and co-
director of the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. He's also a
former Democratic Congressman and an expert on a lot of the long-term issues
we're talking about.
And, Congressman, let me turn it over to you and ask you to talk a little
bit about what are these entitlement programs, and why are they important for
our long-term budget picture?
CONGRESSMAN PENNY: Well, I think -- thanks, Josh, and Mr. President. I
think the first thing to note is that the long-term picture is rather bleak,
that the status quo is unsustainable. And when you talk about the difference
between discretionary and entitlement spending, that tells the story.
Discretionary spending, as you referenced earlier, is the part of the
budget that we control annually. It comes out of the general fund; it's
education, it's agriculture, it's defense, it's a whole lot of stuff that we
think about as the government.
But the entitlement programs are those that are on automatic pilot.
They're spelled out in law and the checks go out year in and year out, based
on the definitions in law. So if you're a veteran, you're entitled to certain
health care benefits under this system. If you're a farmer and you grow
certain crops, you're entitled to subsidies. There are some that are means-
tested. In terms, we give them to you only if you need them; and that's where
our welfare programs and much of our Medicaid spending comes into play. And
then there are the non-means tested entitlement programs, and among those are
Medicare for the senior citizens and Social Security for senior citizens. So,
they're age-based programs.
And those entitlement programs are the biggest chunk of the federal
budget. I think it's constructive to look back over history. In 1964, all of
these entitlement programs, plus interest on the debt, which is also a payment
we can't avoid, consumed about 33 percent of the federal budget. By 1984,
shortly after I arrived in Congress, they consumed 57 percent of the federal
budget, and today they consume 61 percent of the federal budget.
Now, let's look forward a few decades and see where we're going to be with
entitlement spending. By the year 2040, just three -- well, actually four of
these sort of mandatory programs are going to eat up every dime -- income
taxes, payroll taxes, all other revenues that we collect for the federal
government: Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and interest on the debt will
eat up everything. There won't be a dollar left in the budget for anything
else by the year 2040. That tells you the long-term picture, and it is bleak.
So something has to give. Doing nothing is not an option.
Let's look at Social Security alone. And this is something that my
colleague, Mr. Parsons, will speak to in a few minutes. There are huge
unfunded liabilities here. We haven't honestly saved the current Social
Security trust fund. Even though extra payroll tax dollars are coming in each
year, they're not honestly being set aside for this program. Just by the year
2040, there's about $5 trillion of unfunded liability in that program. Now,
we've got to come up with the money somehow to replace those promised dollars.
And it's no easy task. And I know that a million, a billion, a trillion sort
of gets lost on the average listener, so I always like to explain that if
you're looking at a trillion dollars, just imagine spending a dollar every
second, and it would take you 32,000 years to spend a trillion dollars. So
even in Washington, that's big money. (Laughter.) Or as we say in farm
country, it's not chicken feed. (Laughter.)
So the other way you can look at this is your Social Security statement
comes in the mail every year, and it gives you some sense of your promised
benefits in the Social Security system. But on page two of this statement,
there's an interesting asterisk. And the asterisk says, "By about the year
2040, we're not going to be able to pay you all of the benefits that we're
promising you. We're going to be about 25 percent short of what we need to
pay those benefits." So, what does that mean we would have to do if we wait
until the last minute to fix this program? We'd either have to cut benefits
dramatically, or we'd have to impose the equivalent of a 50-percent payroll
tax increase on workers to get the money into the system to honor the promised
So huge benefits cuts or a huge tax increase -- I don't think that's where
we want to go, especially since 80 percent of Americans now pay more in
payroll taxes than income taxes. I don't think that's a solution that they're
going to applaud. But, frankly, it is the kind of solution we're left with if
we wait too long to fix the mess. We waited too long 20 years ago. When I
first arrived in Congress in 1983, we had a Social Security shortfall. We
were borrowing money out of the Medicare fund to pay monthly Social Security
checks. So what did we do, because we were already in a crisis? We cut
benefits by delaying cost-of-living adjustments; we cut benefits by raising
the retirement age, first to 67 and -- 66, and ultimately to 67; and we
increased payroll taxes, significantly, during the 1980s. And so we basically
said to future workers, based on that legislation in 1983, you're going to pay
more and get less.
I mean, to me, that's the problem with waiting until the last minute to
fix this, is that you give people a worse deal. So my view on this is that,
for the long-term -- we can't wait until the crisis hits to address the issue.
We have to look at these challenges now and give the next generation a better
deal. And if we plan ahead and plan appropriately, we can do that.
So we need to act before it's too late. And then I think we send all the
right signals, and we do a better deal for younger workers then -- sort of the
same old, cut benefits raise taxes, a solution that's been imposed in the
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that. I think the issue has shifted. I
think there are more people now who believe they'll never see a check than
people are worried that they'll have their check taken away. And I think it's
important for Congress to understand that. And my attitude is, exactly like
Congressman's, and that is, is that now is the time to deal with it. And it's
going to be very important that we reassure our seniors who depend upon Social
Security that nothing will change as -- and that's been part of the political
problem. And any time anybody mentioned the word, Social Security, the next
thing that followed was -- yes, he's saying that because he's going to take
away your check. And really what we're talking about is a new generation. I
appreciate you pointing that out, Tim.
CONGRESSMAN PENNY: If I can just add this one point, if we had saved
these surpluses honestly in personal accounts over the last 20 years, we'd be
well on the way to fixing this problem by now. And so we may be a little late
in getting this done, but it's still important to move in that direction.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Somebody who's been directly involved in -- and a
leader in trying to formulate a solution for the Social Security problem is
Dick Parsons, who is CEO and chairman of TimeWarner. And he was chairman of
the President's commission on Social Security, co-chair with late Senator
Patrick Moynihan, whom I know we all miss at this time.
Mr. Parsons, we're grateful that you're here, and I wonder if you would
follow on Congressman Penny's remarks and talk a little more specifically
about your commission's work, what problems you saw, what solutions you saw.
MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Josh, Mr. President. The President said earlier
that we have to recognize that we have a problem with Social Security. I
think everybody does. And I don't know that they share the urgency that Tim
just spoke to, and the President just spoke to, or really understand the
nature of the problem. So, let me take a step back and talk about -- approach
it from a slightly different angle, talk about what is the problem with the
Social Security system, which was created in 1935 as what they call a pay-as-
Now, most people here know that, but it was amazing to me when we had our
Social Security Commission, they were all around the country, we had a number
of public hearings, and the people would come and say, "Well, what are they
doing with my money?" Well, what most people didn't know is they were taking
your money that you pay in every day, or every week when you get a paycheck,
and within a very short period of time it's going out the other door to pay
benefits, pay-as-you-go -- money comes in, it goes out to pay the benefits.
Now, that system was created at a time when for every person who is
eligible to participate, retirees, let's call them, there were 40 people in
the work force. There were 40 people working to support one. It was also
created at a time when the average life expectancy for males was such that the
average man would not live to see the day that he could qualify for Social
Security. So, you would pay in -- and the system was built in part -- this is
not cynical, this is just fact, on the notion that half the people who paid in
would never get anything out because they would be dead.
So, where are we today? Today there are three people in the work force
for everybody who's eligible for Social Security. Today life expectancy is
expanded anywhere from five to seven years, depending on gender, since the
time the system was created, so that the great majority of people who
participate will live to see benefits. The fastest growing part of our
population is 85 and up. So, we have a totally different set of circumstances
that we're dealing with. And it's only going to get worse in the sense of --
or more distant from the way the situation that existed when the system was
created. By the year 2020, you'll have two people in the work force for every
person eligible to receive benefits. And life expectancies will be even
So the whole factual basis that underlies this pay-as-you-go system has
changed. And what happened is, and Tim mentioned, that we have huge
underfunded shortfalls in the system. If you -- they usually do this on an
actuarial basis out 75 years. If you look out 75 years and say, how much does
the system promise it will pay, and you look out 75 years and say, under the
existing tax scheme, how much money are we going to be able to have to pay it,
in current dollars, in actual dollars, it's about an $11 trillion to $12
trillion shortfall over 75 years. If you roll that back into the current
dollars and you say, what would it take today to close that, it's about $4
trillion. So that's the problem.
The problem is we've promised more than the revenues that we have, or that
we can look to, to pay. So what's the solution? The traditional solutions
are, as Tim just indicated, either we increase the taxes so you get more
revenues in, or you decrease the benefits so you get less money out. The
problem with that is it's a BAND-AID. And given these demographic shifts that
we're talking about that we see, it simply can't last. You might be able to
put one more BAND-AID on the wound and patch us over for another five or six
But for example, some people say, why don't you just life the wage cap?
Only the first $90,000, as of the beginning of the year, is subject to Social
Security taxes. Well, even if you eliminate the wage cap, that only buys you
four, five, six more years, and then you're back in the same problem. We have
to face up to the fact that the country is in a different place than it was
when this system was created. And the fix needs to be structural. It needs
to be fundamental. We need to change the architecture of Social Security.
And what I mean by that is we gradually have to move from a system that is
based on a pay-as-you-go basis when you had 40 people in the work force for
everyone not, to a system that is on a fund-as-you-go basis, where people can
begin to start to fund and put away the money that they will look to in their
later years for their support and sustenance.
Now, this is not unprecedented. This is exactly what's happened in the
business world. Every corporation in America, mine included, has been engaged
over the last 20, 25 years in a migration from pay-as-you-go kind of pension
arrangements, to funded arrangements. Now, nobody has gotten there -- very
few have gotten there -- probably Charles Schwab has gotten there -- in terms
of fully funded arrangements right now. But putting the money away now to pay
liabilities in the future. This is what private accounts is all about. And
that's why the Commission came down recommending in all of the options that we
put forward, private accounts. It's the beginning of shifting from complete
pay-as-you-go to starting to fund some of our future liabilities now.
And that's -- at the end of the day, while the government is, in law and
in sort of a forced social reality, a different entity than the business
community, economically, it's not. Economically, it's going to have to step
up to the same reality that business had to step up to, that we can't continue
a system that puts a huge burden on future generations that they're not going
to be able to meet. We're going to have to start saving and funding our
responsibility to ourselves on a current basis.
And that's why we made private accounts as a beginning step -- this is not
privatization of Social Security. What it really is, is -- and again, this
isn't unprecedented; this is what business has done -- it's beginning to have
a hybrid system where you have a floor, a base, below which no one can go that
is funded on what they call a "defined benefit" basis -- that you will get
this money, this minimum amount of money, no matter what. But then you have
an ability above that to enhance that on a defined contribution basis -- i.e.,
you put money away now, invest it wisely, and it will come back to you and
give you an even better standard of living in a future time.
So that's essentially the nature of the problem and why we thought that it
was time for structural, architectural change to Social Security, not just
tinkering. You can't -- you know, tinkering can't work anymore. The
demographics -- this was Pat Moynihan's point. He would say, demography is
your destiny. We just can't do what we've done in the past any longer. We've
got to do something different, and this was an idea that made sense.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Mr. President, you mentioned that for current seniors,
this is not a debate for them, that those at or near retirement, this
discussion that's going on now, should not affect what they -- what they've
been promised and what they can expect to get. It's the next generations that
this is debate -- that this debate is about, and who should be concerned about
it. You mentioned, Mr. President, that a lot of the next generation doesn't
think that there will be benefits there for them.
Sandy Jacques is somebody, obviously, from that younger generation. She's
a single mom from West Des Moines, Iowa, and she's active in a group called,
Women for Social Security Choice. And Sandy, let me ask you to speak for the
-- speak for regular folks and younger regular folks -- (laughter) -- and tell
us why you got involved in this organization, why are you active on Social
MS. JACQUES: Sure, Josh. Well, I think the President stated it the best
when he said, most people in my generation believe that we're more likely to
never get a benefit than to have our check taken away from us. I guess it
would be nice to get to the point where we had a check and then we're worried
about it being taken away.
So I guess I'm here because I want to make sure that we do get to the
point where my generation retires and we do have Social Security around and
intact for us. But more importantly, as you mentioned, I have a daughter at
home. Her name is Winter; she's 10 years old. And I want to make sure that
she has Social Security when she retires, as well.
And I believe that the only way to really get to that point is with
personal retirement accounts. They're really the only way to update or
modernize Social Security in a real way without tinkering it, as Mr. Parsons
talked about and as Congressman Penny when they were in Congress, because then
you only resort to a tax increase or benefit cut. With personal retirement
accounts you have money in an account and that money is allowed to grow, and
it's that growth that actually will help to fix Social Security for future
Without that, if we wait, we will have to resort to raising payroll taxes
or cutting benefits like they did in the '80s. To speak to raising payroll
taxes on a personal level, I can't afford a payroll tax increase. In fact, I
think I definitely pay more than enough right now, and that's another reason
why I support Social Security reform. I am not one of these young people that
is willing to give up on that money I'm already paying into the system. I
want to see the system fixed so that I can get that money back when I retire.
And as Tim mentioned, by 2040 -- I actually retire in 2044 -- unless the
retirement age is raised again, but in 2044 we're already at the point if we
do nothing, I will get 25 percent less than what I should get under the
current system right now. So, that is why this issue is very, very important
But I also want to talk about current seniors right now. My grandma is
already retired, my dad actually plans to retire next year, and my mom a
couple years after that. It's very important to me to make sure that their
benefits remain intact for them. It's too late for them to invest in a
personal retirement account. But because of that we need to make sure that we
guarantee their benefits through their retirement, because it's something that
they've been relying on. And it's, I think, our duty to make sure that we
make sure that happens.
But at the same time, I also think it's the country's duty to make sure
that we fix Social Security now so that it's around for when future
generations retire because personal accounts are really the only way to give
us retirement security in the future for me, and more important, my daughter.
Because if I am faced with a 25-percent benefit cut when I retire they may be
looking at raising payroll taxes on my daughter and younger generations at
that time. So really, that's why this is very important to me, Josh.
THE PRESIDENT: You know, one of visions of personal savings accounts is
that Sandy will be able to pass her account on to Winter as part of Winter's
capacity to retire, as well. It is a novel concept, clearly different from
the current system where you don't pass anything on.
MS. JACQUES: That's a great point. That's also very important to me
because if you do get to the point where you're raising payroll taxes, or
cutting benefits to make Social Security solvent at that time, you still don't
own your benefits. With a personal account, you own the money that's in that
account. And I'm sure Winter will be hoping that I have a very modest
retirement so that there is some left for her -- (laughter) -- when I die.
But -- so that's a very important aspect, as well.
THE PRESIDENT: One of the things on personal accounts that listeners must
understand is that you cannot take -- if a personal account, in fact, exists,
you can't take it to the race track and hope to really increase the returns.
(Laughter.) It's not there for the lottery.
In other words, there will be reasonable guidelines that already exist in
other thrift programs that will enable people to have choice about where they
invest their own money, but they're not going to be able to do it in a
frivolous fashion, which will mean two things. One, it's more likely there
will be a rate of return higher than that which is in the Social Security
trust; and secondly, more likely to be actual money available when you retire.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Mr. President, we've been focused on -- principally so
far on the retirement security of today's and future seniors. It's also very
important that seniors have some security about their health care situation.
And so we're privileged to have with us Dr. Bill Roper, who is Dean of the
School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill. And
he's also head of the UNC health care system. Dr. Roper also served in a
previous Bush administration as, among other things, as the head of the
Medicare system. So he knows a lot about this stuff. And let me just ask Dr.
Roper to bring us out of the retirement system and into the health care
system, and tell us what are the challenges we face there, and what do they
mean for our budget situation.
DR. ROPER: Thanks, Josh. And thank you, Mr. President. I think that is
my role, is to say, remember health care; remember Medicare. Surely, the
focus on Social Security is important, but there's this other large and,
indeed, faster-growing entitlement program called Medicare. Just a few
numbers to make the point: This year the Medicare program is one-eighth of
the entire federal budget. Ten years from now, that's projected to be one-
fifth of the federal budget. And by 20 years from now, Medicare will be
larger than Social Security, so it will be the largest federal entitlement,
under current growth rates.
Another point: This year, 2004, the trust fund that our payroll taxes go
into that pays for hospital and related benefits in Medicare, more money is
going out of that trust fund to pay for current needs right now for seniors
and others in the Medicare program than payroll taxes are going into it. So
the balance in the trust fund is beginning to go down, and it's projected to
be entirely exhausted, under current spending patterns, by the year 2019.
All of that is driven by changing demographics. We're aging as a society
and we have a more expensive health care system. Now, a lot of times we in
the health policy community beat up on ourselves, saying that's a terrible
thing that we're devoting so much to health care. I think it's important to
point out that health care is something that we value tremendously as a
society. The ability to spend so much on health care is part of our being a
very healthy economy and a society that says, we want to invest in our health,
especially to help seniors.
And many good things result from health care. A very careful study a few
years ago by some economists showed that if you look carefully and count the
costs and count the benefit that technology -- technological advances in
health care are worth the cost. The benefits far outweigh the costs. And so
we ought to continue to feel good about that, especially those investments in
prevention that end up paying rich dividends down the line.
Projections about how much we're going to spend in Medicare is more
difficult than the projections for Social Security. Everybody who is going to
be a senior citizen 50 years from now has already been born. So we know how
to project Social Security numbers. But we don't know what medical advances
are going to occur, what new technologies, new treatments, new drugs,
whatever, are going to be there. We don't know how much they're going to
cost. Some will surely save money; some will cost more. The benefits there
are substantial. But the simple point is, the growth rate for Medicare is
unsustainable. We just can't devote the entire federal budget to health care.
So the question becomes, how do we constrain that growth? What do we do
about it? And broadly speaking, we face two options. One is to do what
Medicare has done over the last several decades, and I was there in the '80s
and the '90s, and we put in place what are called, administered price systems,
which is the government deciding how much to pay hospitals and how much to pay
doctors, and running those systems so that we try to restrain the rate of
growth to the extent possible.
The alternative, which many people, myself included, and you, sir, are
advocating is a much greater reliance on individuals and empowering them to
make choices, helping them see the value of investing in preventive behavior,
better health for themselves long-term, providing information on who are the
quality health care providers so that people can make choices about where to
go for themselves, and moving us towards a time when we will see head-to-head
competition between alternatives to Medicare and the traditional Medicare
program. The Medicare Modernization Act of last year took us important steps
in that direction. But we have much more to do.
In general, we need to see that the philosophy of private accounts applies
to Medicare just as we've been talking about Social Security. So we need to
move towards more choices for individuals, more competition in market forces
and health care, and more organized integrated care -- especially for people
with chronic illnesses, because they're the ones who end up costing so much.
If we can intervene early with preventive techniques, as I said, we can lower
that rate of growth in spending and end up with a program that we value just
as much as the one that we value today, but doesn't cost as much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for mentioning the Medicare bill. One of the
reasons I was strongly for it was because it did begin to interject a sense of
choice for seniors into the marketplace. And secondly, it recognized that
medicine has changed. And when you have a kind of a static system where
government makes the decisions, it's hard sometimes to get bureaucracies to
adjust to the reality. And the reason why I believe the prescription drug
benefit was a vital component of a new and modern Medicare system was so that
we could prevent hospital stays, for example, by the judicious use of
prescription drugs. And Medicare -- I've said this a hundred times around the
country -- Medicare would pay for hospitalization for a heart attack, but
wouldn't pay for the prescription drugs the could prevent the heart attack
from occurring in the first place, which didn't seem like a very cost-
effective way to try to provide good health care.
And the reforms in the modernization program that we've got there has
begun, I think, to address the inadequacies of Medicare as a result of
decisions being made at the federal level. But you're right, we've got more
DR. ROPER: A lot more to do, but it's a step in the right direction.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Mr. President, I want to bring our economists back in
now, because we've heard about some daunting challenges in the Social Security
system, in the health care system -- and let me ask Liz Ann first, what are
markets and investors looking to the federal government to do at this point?
MS. SONDERS: Let me stay on Social Security reform from a minute.
NBC/Wall Street Journal just had an interesting poll out this morning, that
was reported showing about 50 percent of the surveyed population was not for
private accounts. What I found more interesting was a little bit later in the
report, there were more questions asked than just that, and there was another
more general question asked about, if these same folks had the opportunity to
put more money in the stock market, would they? And 80 percent said, yes.
So I think this goes back to this idea of a lot of misunderstanding, I
think. One of the problems that we're dealing with now is because many in the
Wall Street community very much believe in private accounts, there's this
natural assumption that it must only be because Wall Street is going to be a
huge beneficiary of these private accounts. And certainly what I think makes
the most sense -- and the person for whom I work, Chuck Schwab, thinks makes
most sense, is that you are very controlled. As you said, Mr. President, a
thrift savings plan kind of program where your options are very limited, it's
very index in nature. The fees are structured to be so minimal that in fact
even the studies have show that under any set of proposals Wall Street doesn't
make any money on this for another seven or eight years. I think there is
this natural assumption that if Wall Street is for it, it must mean that they
are going to be big financial beneficiaries of it.
I just think, again, it goes back to what I know you're a big supporter
of, which is the democratization of the markets for individuals, putting more
control in people's hands. And I think this, much like 401(k)s did as we
moved from a benefit part of the non-Social Security retirement to more of a
contribution style -- it's really been one of the reasons why net worth has
gone up. And I think Sandy made some wonderful points about the power that
that puts in your own hands. And the fact that you can actually pass it on to
future generations makes all the sense in the world to me.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Liz Ann has focused on those personal accounts in
particular. Let me ask Dick Parsons to say a little more in detail about what
your commission concluded about personal accounts, and what's the right way to
do this thing.
MR. PARSONS: Fair enough. The point I was making earlier is that we've
got to migrate from an unfunded plan, right, that assumes there are always
going to be enough people in the work force to take care of those who are not,
to a funded plan where folks who are out of the work force have had a chance,
over the course of their working lives, to take care of themselves.
Now, that can be done one of two ways. The government could do it. In
other words, the government could hang on to the money and actually save it
instead of spend it, or you could give people the power to do it on their own
behalf. And after -- we went around the country, we talked to, literally,
scores of people representing scores, and scores, and scores more. And
clearly, I think, the sense of our fellow Americans and our sense as a
Commission was, the better of those two choices is to begin to let people fund
their own programs so that they, A, had a sense of ownership, of wealth
creation. The object ought to be, at the end of the day, to put everybody in
America in a place where, while the government is the place of last resort
when everything goes wrong, there are fewer and fewer of them because more and
more of us can take care of ourselves, right? So that's the objective; that's
the direction the commission felt that this migration to a funded world should
Now, there are lots of examples of how you can do that. Sure, the
President just said you don't want to say everybody, well you just -- you can
hang on to 2 or 3 percent of your money, and just put it in your pocket, do
what you want with it. There's some people who would go to the track. People
aren't ready for that just yet. But there are lots of examples of ways in
which this can be done cost effectively. The Federal Thrift Savings plan
which the President referred to and which Liz Ann just talked about is a great
example. That is a program that exists for people who work for the federal
government who have this right. And it's been run for a number of years.
This result is superior, particularly compared to the returns you would get
leaving that money with the government. And the beneficiaries of that are the
people who participate in that plan.
So we think that there ought to be, at least initially, limitations on how
much discretion you have in terms of investing the funds and creating some
kind of trust arrangement where there -- where there are people who are
investment professionals who help structure and manage the costs of the
initial options. But clearly, people ought to be able to start to save on
their own behalf to create wealth for themselves so that they have that wealth
to look to in their later years, as opposed to a government promise only,
which at some point in time is going to have to come up empty because you
won't have a big enough revenue base to draw from to satisfy the problems.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Congressman Penny, the -- one of the critiques I've
heard about taking some of the steps that Dick -- Dick Parsons is talking
about is that -- look, this isn't the problem for decades to come. It may be
a problem by the time Sandy retires, but certainly not a problem now, why do
we have to wrestle with this tough political issue now? How do you answer
CONGRESSMAN PENNY: You can pay me now, or pay me later. Wasn't there a
commercial on TV once where -- and the purpose of the commercial was to say
that you can spend a little bit now and fix this thing permanently, or you can
just pay me forever. It's sort of like a credit card where you can pay it off
now and be done with it, or you can pay the minimum payment forever. And
that's sort of the choice we're facing here.
And if we choose not to address Social Security reform now, and we let
this thing drag along until we do get to a point of crisis, then we're going
to be cutting and pasting, and cutting and pasting year after year after year
well into the future. It's going to unsettle the markets, because they're
going to look at a fiscal house that is not in order. So that's the reason
it's important to address this now.
I gave an example during my initial remarks about what did happen when we
waited until the crisis was already upon us. We've now got a window of
opportunity to address this issue, and I think we ought to take it.
And I do want to just add one point about polling data, because depending
on how you word the question, you get widely disparate responses. But I've
seen polling data that indicates that for younger people like Sandy, support
for Social Security reform that includes personal accounts is about 80
THE PRESIDENT: That's right.
CONGRESSMAN PENNY: So it's huge. And, frankly, the support for personal
accounts as part of the solution -- and it has to be part of a package. And
that's what we tried to address in the commissions -- how do you put this all
together in order to make it work for the long-term, in order to pre-fund as
much of this as we can while retaining a basis safety net under the
traditional system. It has got to be a package. But when you talk about
reform that includes personal accounts, it's strongly favored by everyone that
currently is ineligible to join the AARP. (Laughter.)
And it seems to me this is really who we're talking about, because, as
you've said, we're not talking about any changes in the near-term; people who
are eligible to join the AARP today are going to be protected under the
traditional system. But we ought to, on a voluntary basis, give people
working today the option of pre-funding part of their retirement, and then
owning that retirement in a way that the government can't take it away from
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Tim, the other thing I've heard -- and I'm going to ask
Jim Glassman to come in here -- the other thing I've heard is, well, maybe you
do have to deal with the problem now because it just gets harder to deal with
it later -- but we can deal with this Social Security problem, and in fact, we
can deal with most of our fiscal problems by raising taxes. How do you react
to that as an economist? And how do you think markets would react to that
kind of solution?
MR. GLASSMAN: Well, I think markets would worry about that, because
markets would worry about, what does that do to growth incentives, and
investment incentives, and savings incentives. And I think, in the markets,
we're interested in -- we know it's a structural problem, and we know that if
you come up with structural changes and structural reforms, we're going to be
much more impressed by that, because we don't need promises to cut this and
that; what we need is to see that the reform that's taking place will be
changing behavior and will be bringing market discipline into the process.
And I think people would be pretty disappointed if the only solution you could
think of was raising taxes.
THE PRESIDENT: Why do markets matter to the person out there looking for
MR. GLASSMAN: You know, the markets are a barometer of this -- this is
where we, collectively, think about the future. And the markets are a taste
test of what people, collectively, think is going to be happening in the
future. So it's -- for one thing, it's a barometer of what we think of your
policies. And for another thing, it affects us when we go to take out a
mortgage loan. Interest rates go up -- because we don't like what's
happening, or we're worried about a policy that's not going to be fixing the
problem then we home-owners pay a price.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Sandy, what -- there has been talk about personal
accounts here, and you've been around Iowa, I guess, campaigning for them.
Tell me a little more specifically what it is that attracts you about them,
what you would do with it, and whether you have any concerns about the safety
of that, of making an investment in a personal account, rather than letting
the government keep your money.
MS. JACQUES: Well, Tim already mentioned earlier, by the time I retire I
should expect a 25 percent reduction in what I should expect to get. So I
have a hard time thinking that I could do worse in a personal account than I
could with the current system. So I guess I'm not worried at all about the
security of my investments in a personal account. Because, as others have
mentioned, the choices would be limited. I'm not going to be able to invest
the money at the race track or invest it -- you know open up the paper and
pick one stock and cross my fingers and hope that it does well. I will be
given limited options for how to invest that in very diversified funds. So
I'm not worried one bit that I would do better in a personal account than I
would do under the current Social Security program because of the demographic
changes that will take place before I retire.
But on a more broader sense, why personal accounts are important to me --
it's very important to me because I think they're the only way to give me
security in my retirement and my daughter's retirement without raising payroll
taxes. I can look at paying the same percentage in payroll taxes until I
retire, but have a bigger account when I retire, because of the growth that
will take place over the next 40 years that I work. I have 40 more years to
work before I retire.
And if you raise payroll taxes you're just going to be asking me to pay
more, but give me less when I retire. But with a personal account I can pay
the same amount in payroll taxes and use a portion of that go to into my
personal account -- so I can pay the same and get back more. Now, paying the
same and getting back more when I retire, I don't know why anyone else is
considering any other option than that because I can't think of a better deal
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Dick Parsons.
MR. PARSONS: Yes, just -- the other thing that I think people need to
consider when Tim talks about a window of time to operate is -- the statistics
we saw and the commission say by about the year 2020, you're going to have
about two people working for every person retired. But that's still two to
one. And where I come from that's a majority. And you've got to ask
yourself, are those two going to let the Congress tax them sort of into
oblivion to pay for the one that's not in the work force. I don't think so.
I think the limit -- there is a limit to how much you can tax, which means
that either benefits will have to come down. That's inevitable. And people
who have been promised something and who believe that they're entitled to
something and who planned on getting it aren't going to get it; or,
essentially, you sort of monetize it that you just issue more money to pay
those promises. But by doing that, a dollar buys 50 cents of what it used to
buy, so that we're on a collision or a train wreck course. And Tim is 100
percent right when he says that time to start to deal with that -- you can't
fix this problem with no pain, without making some sacrifices. But the time
to start making those sacrifices is now, so that they're manageable, so that
the markets can have confidence that we're on a course that is going to avoid
the train wreck. Because if we wait until later, it will be -- it will be a
huge train wreck for our whole economy.
DIRECTOR BOLTEN: Mr. President, we're reaching the end of our time, and
I'm going to do the smart thing and give you the last word. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Ambassador. (Laughter.)
I love the idea of people being able to own something. You know, one of
the most hopeful statistics in America is the fact that more and more people
are owning their own home. It is a -- it's just -- I met a lot of people on
the campaign trail that said, I just bought my first home. And there's just
such joy in their voice, that they were able to say, this is my home.
I love the fact that more and more people are starting their own business.
I think one of the unique things about America is that the entrepreneurial
spirit is so strong that people are willing to take risks. People from all
walks of life, all income levels are willing to take risks to start their own
company. And it's a fantastic experience to meet people who say, my business
is doing well. I'm trying to do the best I can with my business.
And I like the idea of people being able to say, I'm in charge of my own
health care. In other words, if I make a wise decision about how I live, I
end up with more money in my pocket when it comes to a health care savings
account. I particularly like the idea of a Social Security system that
recognizes the importance and value of ownership. People who own something
have a stake in the future of their country and they have a vital interest in
the policies of their government.
And so I want to thank the panelists who are here for helping to
illuminate the need to fix problems, but at the same time, recognizing the
inherent optimism about promoting an ownership society in America. And I want
to appreciate you helping advance this issue -- these issues, so that when we
begin the session after the new year, these will be foremost and forefront
issues for the Congress to consider. Now is the time to solve problems and
not pass them on. This is my message today; it'll be my message to members of
the United States Congress. We have come to Washington to serve, to solve
problems, and do the hard work, so that when it's all said and done, they'll
look back and say, well done, you did your job.
Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
END 10:38 A.M. EST"
For those who enjoy reading fiction...please check out the transcript of Bushy's economic conference
"THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. Go ahead and sit down. First, thank you all for participating in this important series of seminars and speeches. I really thank you for sharing your time during what is a busy season. I particularly want to thank those who served on our panels for speaking clearly and helping people understand some of the issues that face our country. You know, it may be just that the panel on tax and regulatory burden could become the beloved holiday tradition here in Washington. (Laughter.)
I really appreciate the different backgrounds of the people who spoke. We had your entrepreneur, we had your academic, we had your corporate leader, we just had plain old citizens show up. And I really want to thank -- the panels I participated in I thought were great.
It seems like to me there's some common themes that came through the discussions. First, our economy has come through a lot and it's growing. And people realize that, and that's positive. And there's a reason why people say it's growing, besides me, and that's because the facts say it's growing. I mean, we're growing at a pretty healthy rate of 4 percent over the last year. New jobs are being added. The manufacturing sector appears to be stronger. After all, they added 86,000 new jobs since January. Housing ownership and housing starts are still very robust and strong. Interest rates and mortgage rates are low. And there's the ingredients for growth available.
And what I also heard was that the good news shouldn't make us complacent. And I'm certainly not. The -- one, I understand there's some areas of our country which are still struggling. I saw that firsthand during this past 90 days of active travel. There are some challenges, as well, that we heard about that we better get after and address -- now, before it's too late. And I intend to work with members of the Congress and members here in this audience in the beginning of a new term to address the problems.
And here's how I see some of the problems. One, we need to update our tax code. It needs to be easier to understand and more simple. We need to make sure our health care system meets the needs of tomorrow. It's got to be flexible in its application. Consumers have got to have more say in the market. We need to reform our legal systems so the people, on the one hand, can get justice; on the other hand, the justice system doesn't affect the flows of capital.
Members of both parties are going to have to get together to work on this. This is not -- this not one of these series of issues that require a -- one- half of the body to participate. These issues are big enough for all of us -- need to work together. These are compelling national issues that require a national response.
I will work hard as the President to get rid of zero-sum politics in Washington that says, old George does fine if this passes, and my party doesn't. We got to get rid of that. It's got to be that we all take risk and share risk and share in the rewards, so that this notion about one party benefits over the other if we happen to do something positive for our nation no longer is the pervasive psychology here in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
And I will remind people here in Washington that now is the time to confront problems. It's so much easier in politics and in policy to pass big problems on to future generations. That's an easy pass. I -- but I didn't come up here to Washington -- I know a lot of people I my Cabinet didn't agree to serve to pass problems on. I like to confront problems. I like to -- I like to work with people so that we can say we left behind a better America, after it's all said and done. And I don't have that much time here in Washington. So I'm going to -- (applause.) So I'm ready to work. And I want to thank you all for helping us highlight the issues that we have to work on.
I want to thank the members of my Cabinet. I'm so pleased to be working on these problems with a fine Secretary of Treasury, John Snow. (Applause.) You still have a PhD, right? (Laughter.) In spite of that, I'm confident we can get a lot done here in Washington. (Laughter.)
I want to thank my friend, Donny Evans, who served so admirably here in four years. I'm going to miss him when he goes back to Texas. (Applause.) I appreciate Elaine Chao's service as the Secretary of Labor, and I'm pleased she'll be with this administration to work on this issue. (Applause.) Joshua Bolten, member of my Cabinet, head of the OMB, thanks for being here, Josh. Thanks for your good work. (Applause.) And finally, the Director of my National Economic Council, Steve Friedman, has done a fabulous job. He has decided to go back into the private sector, for which I am a little hostile. (Laughter.) But I appreciate your service, friend. (Applause.) Good job.
One of the tests of leadership at all levels of government is to confront problems before they become a crisis. And we've heard about some of the problems. Let me refresh your memories about the problems we have discussed. First, we've heard a lot about the growing burden of lawsuits. We have a litigious society. And it is a problem that is clear and a problem that we will confront.
According to a recent study, frivolous litigation has helped drive the total cost of America's tort system to more than $230 billion a year. That's a lot of lawsuits. The figure is more than twice the amount Americans spent on automobiles in 2002. A study published this summer showed that tort liability costs for many small businesses run at about $150,000 a year. That is a significant burden for a small business to bear. We believe, and many of you have -- believe that that money can be better spent; that it's possible to have a justice system that is fair and balanced; that if you have a claim, you should be able to go to an uncluttered court to have your claim adjudicated.
Tort costs in America are far higher than any other major industrialized nation. That is bad news for America. It means that other nations are able to have a judicial system that is fair and balanced, and we're not. It puts us at a competitive disadvantage. And in a world that is more closely knit, America and American workers can not afford to be at a competitive disadvantage. (Applause.)
And lawsuits can just plain ruin somebody's life. Donnie headed a seminar yesterday, and I happened to be there, and we heard the story of Hilda Bankston -- I think Hilda is probably still here. There you go. First of all, Hilda was born in Nicaragua -- is that right?
MRS. BANKSTON: Guatemala.
THE PRESIDENT: Guatemala -- see, I wasn't paying very close attention. (Laughter.) Maybe I'll get the rest of the story right here. (Laughter.) It's okay to correct the President -- just not in front of all the TV cameras. (Laughter and applause.)
She and her husband, Mitchell, owned a drugstore in Fayette, Mississippi. I've never been to Fayette; I suspect it's one of those classic town squares in a southern city where the pharmacist is an integral part of the community. People come and go, people probably like to hang out get the latest gossip and all that -- talk about the high school football team.
The store got swept up in massive litigation just because it dispensed prescriptions -- certain prescriptions. Small pharmacy, main square, Fayette, Mississippi, and a class-action lawsuit sucks them into the -- into the legal system. She sold the pharmacy five years ago. She has spent countless hours being drug into the court system.
Here's what she said. She said, "My husband and I lived the American Dream until we were caught up in what has become an American legal nightmare." She went on to say, "I'm not a lawyer, but, to me, something is wrong with our legal system when innocent bystanders are little more than pawns for lawyers seeking to strike it rich." (Applause.)
All Hilda asked for is a fair system, and the system right now isn't fair in this case. And we've got to do something about it. We've got to do something about it to make sure we're competitive; we've got to do something about it to make sure that there's not excessive cost; and we've got to do something about it to make sure people like Hilda don't get hurt by a system that was designed to protect people, not hurt people.
The people in Congress must know that excess litigation is not only a drag on our economy, but is a constant source of fear and uncertainty -- creates fear and uncertainty for people in the business community. To keep the economy growing strong in the future, we have got to lift the burden, and reform our legal systems. The nation needs class-action lawsuit reform. (Applause.) The nation needs to have asbestos legal reform. And this nation needs medical liability reform. (Applause.) I'm looking forward to working with Congress to get legal reform done quickly in the upcoming legislative session. (Applause.)
We also heard about the rising cost of health care which restricts access for our families and it makes it harder for employers to cover their workers. This problem is clear, and it will be confronted.
More than half of the uninsured Americans work for small businesses. Small business owners know their employers well, and the ones I've talked to understand they have an obligation and a duty to help take care of them, but there's -- sometimes they're just not able to do so, particularly in the society in which we live today. After all, health care premiums have risen by 83 percent per employee over the last decade.
I just mentioned medical liability reform. There is no doubt in my mind, by passing real, substantive medical liability reform, it will help control the rising costs of health care. (Applause.)
I believe small businesses should be allowed to join together to pool risk so they can negotiate for health care contracts just like big companies are able to do. (Applause.) And I'm pleased to report that we're -- health savings accounts are beginning to work their way through our markets. After all, I just signed up for one two days ago. (Applause.) When it makes it to my level, you know it's going to be widespread these days. (Laughter.) HSAs are making a difference.
Chris Krupinski owns an art and design studio in Fairfax. I talked to her last night. She's pretty enthusiastic about HSAs. If you didn't hear her talk, you should have. First of all, she is a -- she went to insurance agent after insurance agent after insurance agent trying to find something she could afford, and eventually, she was paying $900 a month for insurance for she and her family. Then she heard about health savings accounts, innovative ways for people to cover catastrophic care for their family, at the same time manage the cash flow needs -- their own cash flow needs so they can provide primary care, as well. Now she pays $340 a month for a high-deductible plan, and she puts $290 a month into her HSA -- puts her own money in, money that will earn interest tax-free, money she can take out tax-free, money that's her own money, and she's saving money for her family at the same time. In other words, this innovative plan enables her to control her own destiny when it comes to health care, and at the same time, provides her comfort in knowing that if there is a catastrophe, the health insurance will cover it for she and her family. She's paying less overall, she chooses her own doctor, she saves her own money, and she makes the health care decisions.
Fast-rising medical costs are a drag on this economy, and so there's some things we need to do together. One is expand health savings accounts. Two, promote association health care plans. Congress needs to allow small businesses to pool risk. Three, pass medical liability reform. Four, continue to expand information technology throughout the health care system. Five, move generic drugs faster to the market. In all we do, in all we do to reform health care, we've got to make sure the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in our nation's capital. (Applause.)
A lot of talk in this conference about the tax code and federal regulations, and the fact that regulations and the tax code cost billions of dollars a year. In the campaign, in the course of the campaign, I said to people, the tax code is a complicated mess. Most people understood what I was talking about. Americans spend about six billion hours a year in filling out their tax returns -- or at least trying to fill them out. (Laughter.) The short form takes more than 11 hours to prepare. That's about the same amount of time it took to fill out the long form 10 years ago.
In the last four years, we passed major tax relief, and some of it is getting ready to expire. Take, for example, the death tax. It's getting ready to -- the relief is getting ready to expire. In other words, the tax -- death tax is -- in 2011 is going to come back into being. Frankly, it's going to make estate planning awfully interesting in the year 2010. (Laughter.) I want you to know that the death tax takes up more than 300 pages of laws and regulations in the current tax code. By getting rid of the death tax forever, we have simplified the code by 300 pages. (Applause.)
And not only that, I think it's good public policy. And so does Craig Lang. I met him before. He's a dairy farmer from Brooklyn, Iowa. His family farm has been in the family since 1860. That's when his great, great grandfather arrived in Iowa. I wonder if he arrived from Brooklyn, New York. That would have been interesting, wouldn't it? (Laughter.) Kind of the, life goes full cycle thing. Anyway, Craig wants his children, of course, to inherit the farm. When we talk about the family farm, one way to make sure the family farm remains a family farm is that family members run the farm after the current generation moves on. He now, in order to deal with the death tax -- which I hope expires forever -- is now working with a lawyer, a CPA, and an insurance agent, just so he can structure things correctly to keep the farm in his own family.
Here's what he said. He said, "We pay property taxes, we pay income taxes, and we pay sales taxes every year. It's simply not fair to be taxed again for creating wealth." I think Craig has got a lot of dairy farmer wisdom. (Laughter and applause.) I believe, in order to keep this economy growing, in order to send the right message to people who are willing to risk capital, all the tax relief we passed must be made permanent. (Applause.) And that includes the repeal of the death tax.
But I also understand that in order to deal with budget deficits, which we discussed the morning -- this morning, we need to be tough when it comes to federal spending. I look forward to working with Josh. Josh's job is to develop a budget that meets priorities and shows fiscal restraint. We believe it's possible to do so. As a matter of fact, we not only believe it's possible, we believe it is necessary to do so. It is important for our fellow citizens to know we're willing to prioritize. It's important for the markets to see that we've got enough discipline in Washington, D.C. to make hard decisions with the people's money.
I look forward to finishing our budget deliberations inside the White House. Upon completion, Josh will be sharing the news with the members of Congress and the public. You will see fiscal discipline exercised inside the Oval Office this coming budget cycle. (Applause.)
We understand the effects of paperwork on our administration. Again, Josh is in charge of making sure that this administration culls out, as best as possible, unnecessary regulation.
I used to tease people when I was campaigning. We had these small business forums -- I see one of our participants over here -- and I would say that, I know you fill out paperwork, but what I don't know is whether anybody ever reads it in Washington. (Laughter.) So one thing for certain is we've got to make sure that the paperwork which is never read is eliminated to the best extent possible, so our small businesses, in particular, and big businesses are able to focus their energies and their time and their capital on job creation.
I'm going to appoint a citizens' panel to study the tax code and recommend simplification proposals. Secretary Snow will be charged with that effort. The members of the panel will, of course, include tax experts. It will also have people who aren't experts -- well, they're experts; they'll be experts in paying tax. (Laughter and applause.) The idea is take a look at what's possible, what is necessary, and work with Congress to get something done to simplify the tax code. Now is the time to take on this important task.
In the conference, we heard much about the problems in the education system, which is not fully preparing our citizens for the jobs of the future. There is no doubt in my mind that if we expect to remain competitive in the world, we must educate every child. (Applause.)
Here is a startling statistic. Most new jobs in America are filled by people with at least two years of college. That's startling. What makes it even more startling is the fact that only one in four of our students gets there. That's a learning gap that must be closed. Twenty-five of the 30 fastest growing jobs in America require an education beyond high school. The median salary for someone with college experience is 69 percent greater than for someone who never attended college. That's a pretty good selling point, to say to somebody, we want you to go to college.
Kay Haycock described the challenge -- Kati Haycock described the challenge this way here at this forum. She said, "There are a huge number of American kids who are doing all the things they're supposed to do in high school and don't come close to having the skills and knowledge they need to succeed."
We started to change the system here in Washington with the No Child Left Behind Act. I understand that it's created some consternation. And it's created consternation because, in return for increased federal spending, we finally started asking the question, can you read and write and add and subtract? It's never seemed to me -- (applause.) For some, that's called an unfunded mandate. To me, that's called a necessary mandate -- to make sure our children can learn. (Applause.)
All people understand the importance of accountability are people who need to meet a bottom line, are people who are held accountable for signing up more accounts. Accountability is, in my judgment, crucial to making sure no child is left behind. How can you determine whether or not the curriculum, the reading curriculum you are using is working if you don't measure? How do you know whether or not the teacher training is working if you cannot measure to determine whether or not the pupils of a particular teacher are able to meet certain standards? How do you know how your school is doing relative to the school next door to you? How do you know how your state is doing relative to the state next door to you? How do you know how your children are doing relative to the world? You don't, unless you measure.
Secondly, measuring allows you to correct problems early. And so what we have done here in Washington, D.C. is we have said, in return for extra federal money, we are going to insist that you measure. Notice I didn't say there would be a federal test. That removes accountability away from those who are responsible for educating. It says, you develop a test. You develop accountability standards. We'll norm it around the country in a reasonable way without undermining local authority. But we want to know. We want to know. And where there's success, we'll help you heap praise upon those who deserve success. But where there's failure, we will collectively blow the whistle so that we start getting it right.
There is nothing worse than a school system, and I -- you know, I was a governor at one time, and I remember excuse-laden school systems. And I remember people going, oh, my goodness, all of a sudden we're graduating children who can't read. And so we decided to do something about it, and that is get it done early, before it's too late. The No Child Left Behind Act is going to make a significant difference, so long as Congress doesn't try to water it down. (Applause.)
And now we need to bring high standards and accountability to our high schools. And we got to make sure our job training programs are working, that the job training programs actually train people for what job -- for the jobs that exist, which means consolidation and flexibility.
I'm a big believer in the community college system in America. I think community colleges can help us address the needs and fill the achievement gap. I know community colleges are market-oriented places of higher education. They're affordable, they're accessible, and they're able to adjust to the demands of the local economy.
Some of the most hopeful moments I've had as President have gone into communities and have seen the curriculum of a community college that has been adjusted to the demands of the local employer base, so that if jobs were lost, for example, in the North Carolina textile industry, there was an active, viable, vibrant community college system able to train workers to become nurses in the health care industry that was creating enormous amounts of jobs. The community college system and higher education, itself, must become -- every young person must access our community college system and be prepared to do so -- or higher education, in order for our economy to remain competitive as we head into the 21st century.
Social Security reform, entitlement reform is an important topic we discussed today. You know, there's a -- we talk about the deficit, and there is a short-term deficit here in Washington, which we're going to close in half over a five-year period of time. But there is a long-term deficit, as well. And that long-term deficit really is the unfunded liabilities of the entitlement programs which make up roughly two-thirds of the United States budget.
One of the things that we heard today from experts is that the Social Security system is safe today, but is in serious danger as we head down the road of the 21st century. And this problem has got to be confronted now. And we heard from people that know what they're talking about on this stage this morning, saying that it is a far easier problem to manage today than it will be if we continue postponing solutions.
In 1950, there were 16 workers paying for every beneficiary. Today, there are about three, and when the younger workers retire, there will be only two workers per beneficiary. That should be a warning signal for those of us who are charged with having to confront problems and not pass them on to future Congresses or future generations. The system becomes untenable within a relatively quick period of time. The Social Security system is in the black today, but in the long-term, has $10.4 trillion in unfunded liability -- that's trillion with a "T." That means that a 20-year-old worker today is being promised retirement benefits that are 30 percent higher than the system can pay. By the year 2018, Social Security will pay out more in benefits than the government collects in payroll taxes. And once that line into red has been crossed, the shortfalls will grow larger with each passing year. We have a problem.
Now, some will say, well, that's 2018, I'm not going to be around. But I don't think that's what a good public servant thinks -- should think. I think somebody who is charged with responsibly representing the people must look at the data that I just described and say, now is the time to work together to confront the problem. I understand how government works. Congressman Penny was talking about the last time we dealt with the Social Security issue in a real earnest way was when there was a crisis.
A lot of government, if the truth be known, is crisis-oriented management. You know, we wait and wait and wait, and then the crisis is upon us and everybody demands a solution. The problem with that when it comes to a modernization of Social Security is, is that the longer we wait, the more expensive the solution becomes. And so one of my jobs, one of my charges is to explain to Congress as clearly as I can, the crisis is now. You may not feel it, your constituents may not be overwhelming you with letters demanding a fix now, but the crisis is now. And so why don't we work together to do so. I will also assure members of Congress that this is an issue on which I campaigned, and I'm still standing. In other words, it's a -- (applause.)
If anybody is interested in the politics of Social Security, here's my view. First of all, what has made Social Security a difficult issue to discuss is that many times when you discuss it, a flyer would follow your discussion telling certain people in our society, generally those who have been on Social Security, that they're not going to get their check. I mean, that is fairly typical politics in the past. It really has been. And so people were afraid to address the issue, and I can understand why. If you talk about reforming Social Security, modernizing Social Security, you would get clobbered politically for it. But that dynamic began to shift recently -- recently being, I think the 2000 election. President Clinton, after the '96 election, had a lot of very important panels on the subject. He began to lay the groundwork for substantive real change. He felt comfortable discussing it. I felt comfortable campaigning on it in two elections. I'll tell you why -- because once you assure the seniors that nothing will change, you're really speaking to people that don't believe they're going to get a check at all, and that is the younger generation coming up. And therefore, the dynamic has shifted. And therefore, there's millions of people wondering whether or not the government has the courage to do something to make sure a younger generation will have a viable retirement system available when they retire. And that's how I see the issue.
I did talk about some principles during the course of the campaign. One was, nothing will change if you're retired or near retirement. Two, I do not believe we should raise payroll taxes to try to fix the system. Three, I do believe younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money, some of their own payroll taxes, and on a voluntary basis, set up a personal savings account, an account that will earn -- (applause) -- an account that they manage; an account that earns a better rate of return than the current -- that their money earns inside the current Social Security trust; an account that they can pass on from one generation to the next, in other words, it's your asset; and an account the government can't take away.
I am -- one of my strong beliefs is that all public policy, to the extent possible, ought to encourage ownership in America. I believe in owning things. (Applause.) I think it will be healthy for our system to own and manage their own retirement account. It will cause them to have a vital stake in public policy. People will ask more questions about fiscal responsibility than ever before. People will want to watch carefully decisions made by government at all levels if they have a vital stake in watching their portfolio grow.
I will also say again, like we said this morning, that people are not going to be allowed to take their own money for their retirement account and take it to Vegas to shoot dice. (Laughter.) This is going to be a managed account, similar to the thrift savings plans that we federal employees have available to us now.
These challenges I've just discussed are important challenges. They are big agenda items. But they should be. I mean, why think little when it comes to making sure America is still the center of excellence in the world? (Applause.) Great economies do not get weak all at once. They're kind of eaten away, you know, year by year, by challenges that people just refuse to meet. Slowly but surely, an economy, a great economy can be eroded to the point of mediocrity. This nation must never settle for mediocrity. This nation must always, always strive for the best and leave behind a better America for our children and our grandchildren.
And so we've got to confront the problems I just talked about. And I want to thank you all for coming to highlight the problems. I assure you that I understand that success in dealing with these problems will require strong cooperation in Washington, that I have a responsibility to reach out to members of both political parties and I will meet that responsibility. I look forward to working with you all to help make clear that not only are the problems existing, but there's reasonable solutions to solve them.
In all we do, we've got to make sure the American economy is flexible. One of the reasons why we're a great place in the world for people to do business and realize their dreams is because we have a flexible economy. We've got to make sure that we're always a competitive economy, we're willing to accept competition and take competition on. I happen to believe competition makes this a better world rather than a worse world.
We've always got to stay on the leading edge of innovation. There's always got to be a proper role between government and the economy. The role of government is not to create wealth; the role of government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit is strong and vibrant. (Applause.)
And as I said this morning, when we meet these challenges, we can say to ourselves, and perhaps other generations will eventually say about us, well done. You did the job you're supposed to do.
Thank you for helping us do our job. God bless. Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 2:06 P.M. EST "
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Monday, October 04, 2004 Tuesday, October 05, 2004 Wednesday, October 06, 2004 Thursday, October 07, 2004 Friday, October 08, 2004 Saturday, October 09, 2004 Sunday, October 10, 2004 Tuesday, October 12, 2004 Wednesday, October 13, 2004 Thursday, October 14, 2004 Friday, October 15, 2004 Saturday, October 16, 2004 Sunday, October 17, 2004 Monday, October 18, 2004 Tuesday, October 19, 2004 Wednesday, October 20, 2004 Thursday, October 21, 2004 Friday, October 22, 2004 Saturday, October 23, 2004 Sunday, October 24, 2004 Monday, October 25, 2004 Tuesday, October 26, 2004 Wednesday, October 27, 2004 Thursday, October 28, 2004 Friday, October 29, 2004 Saturday, October 30, 2004 Sunday, October 31, 2004 Monday, November 01, 2004 Tuesday, November 02, 2004 Wednesday, November 03, 2004 Thursday, November 04, 2004 Friday, November 05, 2004 Saturday, November 06, 2004 Sunday, November 07, 2004 Monday, November 08, 2004 Tuesday, November 09, 2004 Wednesday, November 10, 2004 Thursday, November 11, 2004 Friday, November 12, 2004 Saturday, November 13, 2004 Sunday, November 14, 2004 Monday, November 15, 2004 Tuesday, November 16, 2004 Wednesday, November 17, 2004 Thursday, November 18, 2004 Friday, November 19, 2004 Saturday, November 20, 2004 Sunday, November 21, 2004 Monday, November 22, 2004 Thursday, November 25, 2004 Friday, November 26, 2004 Saturday, November 27, 2004 Sunday, November 28, 2004 Tuesday, November 30, 2004 Wednesday, December 01, 2004 Thursday, December 02, 2004 Friday, December 03, 2004 Saturday, December 04, 2004 Tuesday, December 07, 2004 Wednesday, December 08, 2004 Thursday, December 09, 2004 Friday, December 10, 2004 Saturday, December 11, 2004 Sunday, December 12, 2004 Monday, December 13, 2004 Tuesday, December 14, 2004 Wednesday, December 15, 2004 Thursday, December 16, 2004 Friday, December 17, 2004 Sunday, December 19, 2004 Monday, December 20, 2004 Friday, December 24, 2004 Saturday, December 25, 2004 Sunday, December 26, 2004 Wednesday, December 29, 2004 Thursday, December 30, 2004 Friday, December 31, 2004 Monday, January 03, 2005 Wednesday, January 05, 2005 Thursday, January 06, 2005 Saturday, January 08, 2005 Sunday, January 09, 2005 Tuesday, January 11, 2005 Wednesday, January 12, 2005 Thursday, January 13, 2005 Saturday, January 15, 2005 Wednesday, January 19, 2005 Friday, January 21, 2005 Saturday, January 22, 2005 Sunday, January 23, 2005 Monday, January 24, 2005 Wednesday, January 26, 2005 Thursday, January 27, 2005 Friday, January 28, 2005 Saturday, January 29, 2005 Monday, January 31, 2005 Thursday, February 03, 2005 Friday, February 04, 2005 Saturday, February 05, 2005 Sunday, February 06, 2005 Monday, February 07, 2005 Tuesday, February 08, 2005 Wednesday, February 09, 2005 Thursday, February 10, 2005 Friday, February 11, 2005 Saturday, February 12, 2005 Sunday, February 13, 2005 Tuesday, February 15, 2005 Thursday, February 17, 2005 Saturday, February 19, 2005 Sunday, February 20, 2005 Wednesday, February 23, 2005 Saturday, February 26, 2005 Sunday, February 27, 2005 Monday, February 28, 2005 Wednesday, March 02, 2005 Thursday, March 03, 2005 Sunday, March 06, 2005 Tuesday, March 08, 2005 Wednesday, March 09, 2005 Thursday, March 10, 2005 Friday, March 11, 2005 Saturday, March 12, 2005 Sunday, March 13, 2005 Monday, March 14, 2005 Tuesday, March 15, 2005 Wednesday, March 16, 2005 Thursday, March 17, 2005 Friday, March 18, 2005 Saturday, March 19, 2005 Thursday, March 24, 2005 Friday, March 25, 2005 Saturday, March 26, 2005 Sunday, March 27, 2005 Wednesday, March 30, 2005 Thursday, March 31, 2005 Friday, April 01, 2005 Saturday, April 02, 2005 Sunday, April 03, 2005 Wednesday, April 06, 2005 Thursday, April 07, 2005 Saturday, April 09, 2005 Sunday, April 10, 2005 Monday, April 11, 2005 Thursday, April 14, 2005 Saturday, April 16, 2005 Sunday, April 17, 2005 Monday, April 18, 2005 Wednesday, April 20, 2005 Thursday, April 21, 2005 Friday, April 22, 2005 Saturday, April 23, 2005 Sunday, April 24, 2005 Tuesday, April 26, 2005 Friday, April 29, 2005 Saturday, April 30, 2005 Sunday, May 01, 2005 Monday, May 02, 2005 Tuesday, May 03, 2005 Wednesday, May 04, 2005 Thursday, May 05, 2005 Friday, May 06, 2005 Sunday, May 08, 2005 Wednesday, May 11, 2005 Thursday, May 12, 2005 Friday, May 13, 2005 Sunday, May 15, 2005 Monday, May 16, 2005 Wednesday, May 18, 2005 Thursday, May 19, 2005 Friday, May 20, 2005 Saturday, May 21, 2005 Sunday, May 22, 2005 Monday, May 23, 2005 Tuesday, May 24, 2005 Wednesday, May 25, 2005 Thursday, May 26, 2005 Friday, May 27, 2005 Saturday, May 28, 2005 Sunday, May 29, 2005 Monday, May 30, 2005 Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Wednesday, June 01, 2005 Thursday, June 02, 2005 Friday, June 03, 2005 Saturday, June 04, 2005 Sunday, June 05, 2005 Monday, June 06, 2005 Tuesday, June 07, 2005 Wednesday, June 08, 2005 Thursday, June 09, 2005 Friday, June 10, 2005 Sunday, June 12, 2005 Tuesday, June 14, 2005 Thursday, June 16, 2005 Friday, June 17, 2005 Saturday, June 18, 2005 Sunday, June 19, 2005 Monday, June 20, 2005 Tuesday, June 21, 2005 Thursday, June 23, 2005 Saturday, June 25, 2005 Sunday, June 26, 2005 Tuesday, June 28, 2005 Wednesday, June 29, 2005 Thursday, June 30, 2005 Friday, July 01, 2005 Saturday, July 02, 2005 Monday, July 04, 2005 Wednesday, July 06, 2005 Thursday, July 07, 2005 Saturday, July 09, 2005 Sunday, July 10, 2005 Friday, July 15, 2005 Sunday, July 17, 2005 Tuesday, July 19, 2005 Wednesday, July 20, 2005 Thursday, July 21, 2005 Saturday, July 23, 2005 Sunday, July 24, 2005 Tuesday, August 02, 2005 Thursday, August 04, 2005 Friday, August 05, 2005 Saturday, August 13, 2005 Wednesday, August 24, 2005 Friday, August 26, 2005 Saturday, August 27, 2005 Saturday, September 03, 2005 Wednesday, September 07, 2005 Thursday, September 08, 2005 Saturday, September 24, 2005 Wednesday, September 28, 2005 Wednesday, October 19, 2005 Thursday, October 20, 2005 Friday, October 21, 2005 Sunday, October 23, 2005 Wednesday, November 02, 2005 Monday, November 21, 2005 Wednesday, November 23, 2005 Friday, December 02, 2005 Saturday, December 10, 2005 Saturday, December 17, 2005 Sunday, December 18, 2005 Monday, December 19, 2005 Wednesday, December 21, 2005 Wednesday, January 04, 2006 Friday, January 06, 2006 Monday, January 09, 2006 Monday, January 16, 2006 Tuesday, January 17, 2006 Friday, January 20, 2006 Sunday, January 22, 2006 Saturday, January 28, 2006 Tuesday, January 31, 2006 Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Thursday, February 02, 2006 Wednesday, February 08, 2006 Thursday, February 09, 2006 Friday, February 10, 2006 Saturday, February 11, 2006 Sunday, February 12, 2006 Monday, February 13, 2006 Tuesday, February 14, 2006 Wednesday, February 15, 2006 Thursday, February 16, 2006 Saturday, February 18, 2006 Monday, February 20, 2006 Wednesday, February 22, 2006 Thursday, February 23, 2006 Sunday, March 05, 2006 Tuesday, March 07, 2006 Friday, March 24, 2006 Saturday, March 25, 2006 Wednesday, April 05, 2006 Thursday, April 06, 2006 Friday, April 07, 2006 Saturday, April 08, 2006 Tuesday, April 11, 2006 Monday, April 17, 2006 Tuesday, April 25, 2006 Thursday, April 27, 2006 Tuesday, May 09, 2006 Friday, May 12, 2006 Saturday, May 13, 2006 Sunday, May 14, 2006 Monday, May 15, 2006 Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Thursday, May 18, 2006 Friday, May 26, 2006 Sunday, May 28, 2006 Monday, May 29, 2006 Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Thursday, June 01, 2006 Sunday, June 04, 2006 Monday, June 05, 2006 Friday, June 09, 2006 Saturday, June 10, 2006 Sunday, June 11, 2006 Friday, June 16, 2006 Monday, June 19, 2006 Friday, June 23, 2006 Sunday, June 25, 2006 Tuesday, June 27, 2006 Wednesday, June 28, 2006 Friday, June 30, 2006 Sunday, July 09, 2006 Thursday, July 13, 2006 Friday, July 14, 2006 Saturday, July 15, 2006 Monday, July 17, 2006 Tuesday, July 18, 2006 Wednesday, July 19, 2006 Tuesday, July 25, 2006 Wednesday, July 26, 2006 Friday, July 28, 2006 Sunday, July 30, 2006 Monday, July 31, 2006 Thursday, August 03, 2006 Friday, August 04, 2006 Sunday, August 06, 2006 Monday, August 07, 2006 Wednesday, August 09, 2006 Thursday, August 10, 2006 Sunday, August 13, 2006 Tuesday, August 15, 2006 Thursday, August 17, 2006 Friday, August 18, 2006 Wednesday, September 06, 2006 Friday, September 08, 2006 Monday, September 11, 2006 Wednesday, September 13, 2006 Thursday, September 14, 2006 Friday, September 22, 2006 Saturday, September 23, 2006 Sunday, October 01, 2006 Tuesday, October 03, 2006 Monday, October 30, 2006 Monday, November 06, 2006 Tuesday, November 07, 2006 Sunday, November 12, 2006 Tuesday, November 21, 2006 Wednesday, November 22, 2006 Thursday, November 23, 2006 Friday, December 01, 2006 Monday, December 04, 2006 Tuesday, December 05, 2006 Thursday, December 14, 2006 Wednesday, December 20, 2006 Thursday, December 21, 2006 Friday, December 29, 2006 Wednesday, January 10, 2007 Thursday, January 11, 2007 Saturday, January 13, 2007 Monday, January 15, 2007 Wednesday, January 17, 2007 Saturday, January 20, 2007 Tuesday, January 23, 2007 Tuesday, February 20, 2007 Saturday, February 24, 2007 Sunday, February 25, 2007 Friday, March 23, 2007 Wednesday, April 04, 2007 Tuesday, April 10, 2007 Thursday, April 12, 2007 Friday, April 13, 2007 Thursday, April 19, 2007 Friday, April 20, 2007 Tuesday, April 24, 2007 Tuesday, May 08, 2007 Thursday, May 10, 2007 Friday, May 11, 2007 Monday, May 14, 2007 Tuesday, May 15, 2007 Sunday, May 20, 2007 Monday, May 21, 2007 Tuesday, May 22, 2007 Wednesday, May 23, 2007 Thursday, May 24, 2007 Sunday, May 27, 2007 Wednesday, May 30, 2007 Thursday, May 31, 2007 Friday, June 01, 2007 Monday, June 04, 2007 Wednesday, June 06, 2007 Saturday, June 09, 2007 Sunday, June 10, 2007 Monday, June 11, 2007 Friday, June 15, 2007 Tuesday, June 19, 2007 Tuesday, June 26, 2007 Wednesday, June 27, 2007 Thursday, June 28, 2007 Saturday, June 30, 2007 Monday, July 02, 2007 Tuesday, July 03, 2007 Friday, July 06, 2007 Tuesday, July 10, 2007 Friday, July 13, 2007 Tuesday, July 24, 2007 Saturday, July 28, 2007 Sunday, July 29, 2007 Monday, August 13, 2007 Sunday, August 19, 2007 Saturday, August 25, 2007 Monday, August 27, 2007 Wednesday, August 29, 2007 Friday, August 31, 2007 Friday, September 07, 2007 Wednesday, September 12, 2007 Wednesday, September 19, 2007 Friday, September 21, 2007 Friday, September 28, 2007 Tuesday, October 02, 2007 Thursday, October 11, 2007 Saturday, October 27, 2007 Thursday, November 01, 2007 Saturday, November 03, 2007 Monday, November 05, 2007 Wednesday, November 28, 2007 Tuesday, December 04, 2007 Tuesday, December 11, 2007 Friday, December 14, 2007 Friday, December 21, 2007 Tuesday, December 25, 2007 Saturday, December 29, 2007 Monday, January 07, 2008 Thursday, January 10, 2008 Saturday, January 12, 2008 Sunday, January 13, 2008 Tuesday, January 15, 2008 Friday, January 18, 2008 Saturday, January 19, 2008 Friday, January 25, 2008 Sunday, January 27, 2008 Monday, January 28, 2008 Tuesday, January 29, 2008 Sunday, February 03, 2008 Wednesday, February 06, 2008 Friday, February 08, 2008 Sunday, February 10, 2008 Monday, February 11, 2008 Tuesday, February 12, 2008 Monday, February 25, 2008 Tuesday, February 26, 2008 Monday, March 03, 2008 Tuesday, March 04, 2008 Saturday, March 22, 2008 Saturday, April 19, 2008 Wednesday, April 23, 2008 Saturday, April 26, 2008 Wednesday, April 30, 2008 Monday, May 05, 2008 Tuesday, May 13, 2008 Wednesday, May 14, 2008 Saturday, May 17, 2008 Tuesday, May 20, 2008 Saturday, May 24, 2008 Sunday, May 25, 2008 Thursday, June 12, 2008 Tuesday, June 17, 2008 Saturday, July 05, 2008 Tuesday, July 08, 2008 Monday, August 04, 2008 Thursday, August 28, 2008 Thursday, September 11, 2008 Saturday, September 20, 2008 Monday, September 22, 2008 Tuesday, September 23, 2008 Wednesday, September 24, 2008 Friday, September 26, 2008 Monday, September 29, 2008 Saturday, October 04, 2008 Wednesday, October 08, 2008 Thursday, October 09, 2008 Sunday, October 12, 2008 Wednesday, October 15, 2008 Wednesday, October 22, 2008 Thursday, October 23, 2008 Friday, October 24, 2008 Tuesday, October 28, 2008 Wednesday, October 29, 2008 Monday, November 03, 2008 Tuesday, November 04, 2008 Thursday, November 06, 2008 Saturday, November 08, 2008 Monday, November 10, 2008 Wednesday, November 19, 2008 Thursday, December 18, 2008 Monday, December 22, 2008 Sunday, January 11, 2009 Thursday, January 22, 2009 Monday, January 26, 2009 Thursday, February 19, 2009 Tuesday, February 24, 2009 Friday, February 27, 2009 Monday, March 02, 2009 Thursday, March 05, 2009 Wednesday, March 11, 2009 Thursday, March 12, 2009 Friday, March 13, 2009 Thursday, March 19, 2009 Monday, March 23, 2009 Friday, March 27, 2009 Saturday, March 28, 2009 Sunday, March 29, 2009 Thursday, April 02, 2009 Tuesday, April 07, 2009 Tuesday, April 14, 2009 Tuesday, April 21, 2009 Thursday, April 23, 2009 Saturday, April 25, 2009 Sunday, May 03, 2009 Wednesday, May 06, 2009 Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Wednesday, May 13, 2009 Thursday, May 14, 2009 Sunday, May 17, 2009 Tuesday, May 26, 2009 Wednesday, June 03, 2009 Thursday, June 04, 2009 Tuesday, June 09, 2009 Friday, June 12, 2009 Saturday, June 13, 2009 Sunday, June 14, 2009 Monday, June 22, 2009 Thursday, June 25, 2009 Saturday, July 11, 2009 Tuesday, July 14, 2009 Friday, July 24, 2009 Tuesday, August 18, 2009 Wednesday, August 19, 2009 Friday, August 21, 2009 Monday, August 24, 2009 Thursday, September 03, 2009 Wednesday, September 09, 2009 Thursday, September 10, 2009 Sunday, September 13, 2009 Monday, September 14, 2009 Tuesday, September 15, 2009 Wednesday, September 23, 2009 Friday, September 25, 2009 Sunday, September 27, 2009 Tuesday, September 29, 2009 Monday, November 02, 2009 Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Thursday, November 12, 2009 Tuesday, November 24, 2009 Thursday, February 25, 2010 Thursday, March 04, 2010 Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Tuesday, March 23, 2010 Friday, April 09, 2010 Friday, April 16, 2010 Wednesday, April 21, 2010 Thursday, April 22, 2010 Friday, April 23, 2010 Thursday, April 29, 2010 Sunday, May 02, 2010 Friday, May 07, 2010 Sunday, May 09, 2010 Monday, May 10, 2010 Tuesday, May 11, 2010 Tuesday, June 15, 2010