Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cato responds to president's State of the Union address

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:14 AM |  

Like most of you, I'll be spending time over the next few days examining the fine print of the President's State of the Union address. But for now, these comments from the Cato Institute are a good starting point.

Edward H. Crane, Cato Institute, president and founder:
"President Bush is to be commended for recognizing the need for personal accounts within Social Security. For far too long leaders in both parties have been unwilling to provide leadership in reforming this deeply flawed system. The major flaws are the lack of ownership, wealth creation, and inheritability that plague the current system. What the president has proposed is clearly a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough, fast enough. The president is too concerned with financing issues. Debt in America is at an historically modest level and our $2.2 trillion federal budget offers a myriad of opportunities to fund the transition. The key is ownership. The focus should be ownership. The administration should put forth a proposal that allows Americans to purchase real assets with their entire 6.2 percent share of the payroll tax with no limits -- money that will grow, that they can leave to their loved ones, and that the politicians can't touch."

Michael Tanner, director of Cato's Project on Social Security Choice:
"President Bush spelled out the details of his Social Security reform plans tonight. While we are disappointed that he has chosen to start with much smaller accounts than we had hoped, we believe that this plan provides a useful starting point for discussion. The president has shown commendable courage, not only in his willingness to confront the need for Social Security reform, but in being willing to set out the details of his plan. That is far more than his critics have been willing to do. In the coming weeks and months, Congress will have the opportunity to build on the president's proposal, and hopefully provide workers with even more ownership and control over their retirement funds."

Christopher Preble, Cato Institute, director of foreign policy studies:
"As the president pointed out in the State of the Union address, the historic elections in Iraq last week open a new phase in the U.S. mission there. The United States must make every effort to move to a supporting role, allowing the Iraqi people to defend their own country while satisfying the security needs of the United States. While the president refused to commit to a specific timeline for military withdrawal, I would have liked to have heard more detail surrounding plans for a drawdown of U.S. forces. The terrorists and anti-American insurgents claim that the U.S. military presence is intended to thwart the wishes of the Iraqi people, and that the United States plans to remain in Iraq indefinitely. By planning for the removal of at least some of the 150,000 U.S. troops from Iraq, the president can seriously undermine these false claims."

Chris Edwards, Cato Institute, director of tax policy studies:
"President Bush gave a very pro-market speech on domestic policy and he sounded tough about cutting the budget, calling for reducing or eliminating 150 government programs. I hope there are big spending cuts. He also called for a top-to-bottom review of the tax code, which is exactly what we need."

David Salisbury, Cato Institute, director of the Center for Educational Freedom:
"The president said we need to rebuild the institutions upon which millions of Americans rely. Included in those institutions should be America's public schools. Our public schools are strangled by bureaucracy, overburdened by regulations, and insulated from the realities of the marketplace. Our education system needs to be restructured to make schools more accountable, not to government, but to parents who have the ability to choose where they wish to send their children and their education dollars."