DFF Item #29

29. Dear Mister Railroad President:

The Federal Government under the leadership of President George Bush has come to the conclusion that the Social Security System is in deep trouble and that it will not be able to fulfill it's mandate to properly provide a financial and medical safety net for the country's retired senior citizens if something is not done to bolster revenues. Many corrective options have been proposed both by governmental and private groups. How will this crisis in governmental mismanagement and the proposed cures for the nation's promise to retired citizens affect the Railroad Retirement System and railroad retirees? Has the Lackawanna Terminal Management Team done any research into the problems facing our senior retired railroaders or offered any solutions to what may become the worst government debacle since the Vietnam War or Hillary Clinton's failed attempt to reform this country's medical system. What will future railroad retirees face when their time comes to leave the railroad industry and reap the rewards of a guaranteed income and affordable medical benefits promised them by their government and it's elected representatives?

 With sincere warm regards,
Clarence Bobinski
General Chairman, General Committee of Adjustment
International Brotherhood of Locomotive Employees (BLE)
Representing the unionized transportation employees of the Lackawanna Terminal Railway

 Dear General Chairman Bobinski;

The members of the Lackawanna Terminal Management Team are as concerned as you and your followers about the future of the Railroad Retirement System. As you are well aware, the Railroad Retirement System is a two tiered system. While Tier 2 railroad retirement benefits and their funding are generally determined by rail labor and management bargaining agreements, Tier 1 benefits are basically Social Security benefits. Contributions to and benefits from Tier I of the Railroad Retirement System are based on the same formulas as provided under the Social Security Act and any changes to the latter will affect the former in a like manner. Therefore, it is essential that all members of the railroad industry involve themselves in any changes to the Social Security System in order to protect railroad companies and  their workers from any adverse affects brought on by radical changes in America's  retirement system. 

To this end the members of the Lackawanna Terminal Railway Management Team have assigned our Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Margaret Blintz to form a blue ribbon panel to investigate the various problems in both retirement income and medical benefits and solutions proffered by government and private groups to save the Social Security System and therefore have a beneficial affect on the Railroad Retirement System.  From the panel's report the members of the Lackawanna Terminal Railway's Management Team have devised a set of solutions to each problem encountered in our quest for the best solution to the Social Security Trust Fund's  insolvency.

The President predicts that, without draconian reform, the Social Security System is headed for bankruptcy and strongly suggests "private accounts" as the answer and said, in fact, "by the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt

If steps are not taken to avert that outcome, the only solutions would be dramatically higher taxes, massive new borrowing, or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs." (Feb. 3, 2005 State of the Union Address)

Our blue ribbon panel, after many hours of research, soul searching, and numerous cocktails has determined that this most dire prediction is not necessarily so and that the real problem with financing the Social Security System is that revenues going into the system eventually will be outstripped by costs by a date upon which even "exports" from the government can't agree. The blue ribbon panel also concluded that there are several ways that revenue can be increased and costs controlled so that benefits can continue at their promised levels even with the COLA (Cost of Living Allocation) presently in place (or slightly modified) . Since no single solution solves the solvency problem the real answer rests on the combined implementation of the blue ribbon panel's recommendations.

According to the blue ribbon panel any solution to the Social Security continued solvency problem must be bipartisan, thus appealing to both Republicans and Democrats in order to be passed through the meat grinder that the legislative process has become. The blue ribbon panel also suggests that any permanent fix to the retirement system has to include coming to grips with increasing Medicare costs as well as maintaining the monthly checks that retirees have been promised. The following represents the blue ribbon panel's combined remedies for Social Security, and Medicare solvency:

1. Make all earnings subject to the payroll tax. Currently, earnings above $90,000 aren't taxed. Eliminating that cap would hit only the highest-earning 6% of the population. This would bring in enough to close 93% of the gap over the next 75 years, but only 33% of the gap at the end. One reason is that high-income taxpayers would draw increased benefits in the future based on their higher taxable wages. This is one the Democrats should love because it plays well to their mantra about screwing the rich. The Republicans will buy into this part of the plan because they, like the Democrats, are first and foremost surviving politicians and therefore are willing to screw their wealthy friends if necessary to offset a greater evil such as their inability to feed at the Federal Trough.

Wealthy corporations and individuals will reap financial returns in other ways that will more than offset any loss in gross earnings caused by the extension of the Social Security tax. 

2. Deny monthly checks to those whose unearned income during retirement exceeds the monthly Social Security  stipend but allow retirees to earn an unlimited amount of earned income after they reach retirement age. This would allow retirees the opportunity to continue working long after their normal retirement age without penalty while providing the retail industry with an abundant source of cheap labor thus stunting the growth of and further withering the strength of Communist leaning trade unionism in the retail marketplace. It would also allow the "Baby Boomers" to continue to contribute to society and the government's coffers by extending their useful lives and thus garnering the respect of those younger generations who would reluctantly have to support their ungrateful and aged personages otherwise. It would also allow those who have attained great wealth to continue to work as consultants to companies they have bankrupted while they were CEOs and CFOs and reap the full benefits of their various nefarious enterprises. This is one both Democrats and Republicans should equally embrace since this recommendation benefits the wealthy supporters they screwed in item 1 above and politicians are no longer concerned about trade unions anymore.

 3. Allow the cost of all prescription medicines to continue to increase at a far greater rate than the cost of living index while keeping the Medicare allowance for medicines rigidly the same. Since one the largest factors in the increase of Social Security and Medicare costs is the coming of age of the "Baby Boomers", increasing the cost of life sustaining medication will require seniors to choose between medical sustenance and their favorite dog food. Since dog food is much more filling than pills and far less expensive most seniors would choose to fill up on "Kibbles and Bits" instead of life sustaining medication with the resultant shortening of their lifespan. This predicted rapid decline in the numbers of "Baby Booming" seniors living off the dole and draining the Medicare system will close the gap in Medicare and Social Security costs by a minimum of 25% over the next 75 years and close 33% of the gap at the end as well as provide a gold mine of wealth for the pharmaceutical industry already embarrassingly flush with funds.

4. Allow an increase in the importation of illegal immigrants, especially from the south and continue to "export" high paying tech jobs to third world countries. Illegal immigrants from the south will take jobs which nobody wants anyway, pay into the Social Security and income tax systems but never collect benefits or tax returns because if they try they will be deported. The jobs they leave when they return to their homelands can be filled by legal retirees. The exportation of high paying tech jobs will leave over qualified geeks unemployable and require them to apply immediately for unemployment compensation and eventually, welfare. The unemployed geeks will have to sell their houses to real-estate brokers who will in turn sell them to illegal immigrants from the south who will turn them into condos for their relatives who are also in this country illegally. The revenue ingested by the government from this plan will close the Social Security gap by 12.5% over 15 years and will create a surplus in the Social Security and Medicare systems by the year 1024; money that can be siphoned off into the Federal Government's General Fund and wasted on useless pork barrel projects across this great nation. In addition, denying free medical benefits to illegal immigrants and their families could add another 10% to gap closing revenues over 15 years and increase the surplus in 2024 by an additional 7%. Both political parties should embrace this solution because it generates much tax revenue and puts left wing liberal geeks on welfare and thereby increases government control over them.

So, as you can see General Chairman Bobinski, the Lackawanna Terminal Railway's Management Team takes the ongoing debate on Social Security solvency very seriously since it's affect on the Railroad Retirement System is obvious. The suggestions of the Lackawanna Terminal Railway's blue ribbon panel will be forwarded to those many members of Congress whose views are sympathetic to those corporations within the railroad industry who generously support them in their most patriotic endeavors. We are confident in the bipartisan Congressional support for our most worthy  recommendations commensurate with the financial support we give our Congressmen and women.  

Thank you for your concern in this matter,
The Lackawanna Terminal Railway's Management Team

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