2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Tapping Social Security seems likely
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - Top Republican officials yes-
terday sought to calm fears that President Bush's
economic policies jeopardized the Social Security
program, reassuring retirees that their benefits would
be safe even if the government dipped into the pro-
gram's surplus funds.
While Republicans in both chambers of Congress
drafted budget-cutting measures designed to protect
Social Security funds, Vice President Dick Cheney
turned an energy-policy event into a speech defend-
ing Bush's budget, and Senate Minority leader Trent
Lott (R-Miss.) said the political ramifications of
using the Social Security funds were exaggerated.
Monday's efforts underscored the anxiety Republi-
cans have felt since White House Budget Director
Mitchell Daniels warned on Friday that the current
fiscal year's budget could tap into Social Security
funds - something Bush and most lawmakers
promised not to do. While Bush and his aides contin-
ue to assert that their budget will not need the funds,
Daniels' unexpected warning sent lawmakers scram-
bling to consider bookkeeping changes and spending
cuts that would keep the surplus retirement funds
The Republican National Committee sent out a
news release yesterday noting that tapping Social
Security surplus funds would not harm beneficiaries.
The statement referred to quotes from Marty Corry,
an official with the AARP, saying that tapping the
surplus "doesn't affect the trust funds one way or the
The RNC said it was not building a case for Bush
and Congress to dip into the Social Security funds
for the year ending Sept. 30, but was trying to cor-
rect any misunderstanding. "There's this sense out
there that if the trust fund were to be used, benefits
would be in danger," said RNC spokesman Trent
Duffy. "It's just not right."
Lott told reporters that the government need not
and should not spend the surplus retirement funds,
but argued that the political danger of doing so
"probably is being over-dramatized and over-empha-
sized." Last, week, Sen. Pete Domenici (N.M), rank-
ing Republican on the Budget Committee, said there
was no reason not to use the Social Security funds.
While the president delivered an education mes-
sage at a school in Jacksonville, Fla., Cheney, in
Frankfort, Ky., switched his remarks to the economy.
"This budget does protect Social Security and
Medicare," Cheney said. "Benefits will be paid on
time and in full."
Throughout the day, lawmakers and Bush officials
discussed ways to keep the government from tapping
the surplus funds in the current fiscal year and in fis-
cal year 2002. That goal is complicated by proposals
to spur the sluggish economy that would either boost
spending or reduce revenues.
Republicans on the House Budget Committee
tentatively scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to draft
legislation that aides said would ensure that surplus
Social Security payroll taxes would be used for
debt reduction in the fiscal year that ends in three
weeks. The plan would impose across-the-board
spending cuts in all discretionary programs, includ-
ing defense, in the 2002 fiscal year, in an effort to
pay back any payroll taxes money that was used for
spending in 2001.
Thomas Kahn, House Budget Committee Democ-
ratic staff director, said an across-the-board cut was
"a sledgehammer approach" that would slice funds
for a range of domestic programs, including admin-
istrative costs for unemployment insurance,
Medicare and children's health programs.
HEADLINES F M AROUND THE WORLD
Suspect wanted in shooting kills self
A former security guard wanted in the slayings of five people shot himself to
death after a high-speed chase and police shootout yesterday, capping a weekend
of violence that followed another Sacramento rampage three weeks ago.
Joseph Ferguson killed himself in a stolen car after leading officers on a 40-
minute chase through suburban Rancho Cordova, shooting an officer and a
bystander during the pursuit, said Sacramento County Sheriff's Capt. John
The chase began after Ferguson claimed his fifth victim late Sunday, police
said. Ferguson exchanged fire with officers during the chase, then smashed into a
light pole in front of a fast-food restaurant, police said.
Ferguson remained sprawled in the car while authorities waited, and when
they approached they found he had shot himself, McGinness said.
A bystander shot in the stomach during the chase was in serious to critical
condition yesterday. A highway patrol officer was in good condition with a gun-
shot wound to the arm :authorities said.
Authorities say Ferguson was upset about breaking up with his girlfriend and get-
ting suspended from his job with Burns Security a week earlier. His ex-girlfriend,
also a Burns employee, and three other former co-workers were among the victims.
Israel and Palestinians agree to peace talks
Israel and the Palestinians said they were willing to hold high-level truce talks
today, despite a series of deadly weekend attacks by Arab militants, but remained
at odds over where the meetings should take place.
Even if Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat settle the disagreement over the venue - Egypt or the Erez crossing near
the Gaza Strip - there is little expectation they will produce a cease-fire.
Previous U.S.-led truce efforts have failed to stop nearly a year of fighting and
the Palestinians suspect Peres has only a limited mandate, while Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon remains distrustful of Arafat's intentions.
Also, Arafat's planned meeting tomorrow in Damascus with Syrian President
Bashar Assad, a staunch opponent of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, was seen as
a possible signal the Palestinians are hardening their stance toward Israel.
A senior Israeli defense official said he expected the fighting to persist and he
saw no signs Arafat has changedwhat Israel considers the Palestinian leader's
strategy: trying to extract concessions through violence. The official briefed mili-
tary correspondents on condition of anonymity.
Bush touts education
proposal in Florida
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida
once again became a political battle-
ground yesterday as President Bush
and his younger brother, Florida Gov.
Jeb Bush, traveled to an elementary
school cafeteria to promote reading
and Democrats began moving in for a
national party meeting later this week.
The president plans to devote all
week to pressuring Congress to finish
work on an education bill that
includes money for his campaign
promise to help every child learn to
read by third grade. First lady Laura
Bush will join the effort by speaking
Tuesday morning before a committee
chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-
"There's too many of our kids in
America who can't read today," Bush
said at a 30-minute "Leadership
Forum" the White House staged here.
"Now it's time to wage war on illitera-
cy for the young, and to whip this
Bush will remain for a second day
in Florida, the state that made him
president. In an effort to capitalize in
residual bitterness among Democrats
about the election's outcome, the
Democratic National Committee will
hold a three-day meeting in Miami
"Florida Democrats are pumped
up, fired up and ready to fight," DNC
Chairman Terence McAuliffe said.
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Elizabeth Dole will
run for Senate seat
Elizabeth Dole, who unsuccessfully
sought the Republican presidential
nomination in 2000, will take the first
formal step toward a bid for the Senate
from North Carolina today with the
establishment of a campaign commit-
tee that will allow her to begin to raise
funds and put together a staff.
"I'm going to be raising money,
traveling thetstate, taking the first
steps, and then make a formal
announcement of candidacy later in
the fall," Dole said in a brief telephone
Dole will be seeking the seat held
by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) who has
served in the Senate since 1973, and
she enjoys the strong support of the
Republican establishment in Washing-
ton. But Dole will face a potentially
tough primary contest for the GOP
nomination against former Charlotte
Mayor Richard Vinroot.
Suicide bomb puts
Massood in hospital
The symbol of opposition to
Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban rulers,
Ahmed Shah Massood, was uncon-
scious and in serious condition yester-
day following a suicide bombing
attack, his brother said.
But there were conflicting reports
about the 48-year-old Massood, with
the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass
reporting his death.
Massood's brother, Ahmed Wali, said
he underwent emergency surgery in
Tajikistan to remove shrapnel from his
head after the attack by two men posing
as journalists. The attack Sunday in
northern Afghanistan killed one of Mas-
sood's spokesmen and both bombers.
The loss of Massood would devastate
the opposition, already a fractured col-
lection of groups who fought each other
when they ruled much of Afghanistan
for four years until the Taliban took
control in September 1996.
The underage drinking case against
President Bush's 19-year-old daughter
Barbara was dismissed yesterday after
she completed community service and
other requirements, a city spokes-
Bush had pleaded no contest in June
to a charge of minor in possession of
alcohol. She completed eight hours of
community service at Goodwill,
attended an alcohol awareness class,
paid $100 in court fines and stayed out
of trouble for three months, city
spokeswoman Patty Gonzales said.
The charge will be wiped from her
record, Gonzales said.
Bush, who attends Yale University,
and her twin sister, Jenna, who attends
the University of Texas, were ticketed
after their visit to a Mexican restaurant
in Austin in May. Jenna was fined
$600 in July and her driver's license
was suspended for 30 days.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.
The Michigan Daily (ISSN 0745-967) is published Monday through Friday during the fall and winter terms by
students at the University of Michigan. Subscriptions for fall term, starting in September, via U.S. mail are
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