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January 18, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-18

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 18, 2005



SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority
of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

'' He would not
support the war in
- Cecil Williams, pastor of San
Fransisco's Glide Memorial Church,
referring to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., as
reported by the San Fransisco Chronicle.

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Quiet down Ted

My advice to the the most tired political tagline of them all; calling
Democratic on Democrats to stand up to the Bush administra-
Party as it tion's "politics of fear." Reid, who has gone to great
gears up for the approach- pains to polish the party's dented image, has com-
ing skirmish over Social plained about its lack of self-control in the public
Security: Put a leash on Ted sphere. While Kennedy's angry invectives may
Kennedy. If that sounds too have drawn a spotlight, they did little to address the
x cruel, I'd settle for an air- party's identity crisis. With no cohesive national
tight, industrial-strength message, an undisciplined command structure
muzzle. It wouldn't need to and a Ted Kennedy temper tantrum in place of
stay on long - just until the party learns how to a practical policy statement on entitlements, the
keep order in its rank and file. He can even remove Democratic Party is in no shape to come to blows
it before bedtime. Either way, if Democrats want over Social Security. But as political happenstance
any hope of saving Social Security -from a GOP has it, in spite of all of its punishing slipups, the
hijacking, the Massachusetts firebrand will need to party may very well walk out of the tussle without
be kept quiet. a scratch.
Kennedy's post-election persona has run amuck. Though the Social Security package will
His manic politicking - once confined to com- undoubtedly be pushed with all the White House's
mittee hearings and half-empty Senate chambers muscle, early speculation has the bill entering the
- has drifted into the mainstream media. Just last Capitol Building dead on arrival. Social Security
week, C-SPAN junkies across the country watched reform has trisected the Republican Party, and as
a flushed Kennedy deliver his "Democratic blue- the debate heats up, the prospects of a winning vote
print for America's future" to an audience at a margin continue to shrink.
widely promoted National Press Club luncheon. Analysts have isolated a divergince in perspec-
During his hour-long outburst, the 72-year-old tives believed to be at the source of the conflict.
lawmaker tore into the White House's yet-to-be- From his second-term vantage point, Bush is look-
released entitlement plan, slamming the president ing out at the birth of his long-coveted "ownership
for propagating what he argued was a fictitious society," a consumer-friendly social order where
Social Security scare. "We have an administration tax cuts are permanent and government entitle-
that falsely hypes almost every issue as a crisis," ments like Medicare and Social Security have
he said, insisting that "the biggest threat to Social been soaked into the private sector. But for many
Security today is not the retirement of the baby House Republicans (estimates range from 20-40),
boomers - it's George Bush." Unremitting, Ken- the White House's long-term domestic agenda is a
nedy went on to call the private-sector investment political powder keg not to bre approached. While
plan "a nightmare for senior citizens and a bonan- the President is digging in for a policy footprint that
za for Wall Street" and branded reform-receptive will go recognized for decades to come, recently
Democrats as turncoats and "Republican clones." seated House conservatives are having trouble see-
Now I'm no expert, but when it comes to Social ing past 2006.
Security reform - a legislative scuffle shaping up-Butwinningback his-partywill-requiremuch-
to be one of the most momentous of the decade more than a pep talk. Bush's plan is also taking
- instinct tells me Ted Kennedy was not the chap on fire at the policy level. The exact details of the
party strategists had in mind when mulling over a president's privatization proposal haven't been
policy spokesman. God only knows what went fly- released, but insider guesswork projects the policy
ing in Harry Reid's office, the recently appointed would allow workers under the age of 55 to invest
Senate Minority leader, when Kennedy dropped somewhere between two and 3 percent of their

income (around two thirds of what they would cur-
rently forfeit in payroll taxes) into personal savings
accounts. It is here where Bush has been blindsided
by the far-right - forced to defend the merits of
his proposal to a growing insurgency of once-pre-
sumed privatization allies. Sen. John Sununu (R-
N.H.) and Wis. Rep. Paul Ryan want legislation
enabling recipients to invest all of their payroll
taxes, and thus far, have laid claim to powerful
allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a rank-
ing conservative on the Health, Education Labor
and Pensions committee.
Bush plans to bankroll the overhaul by tweaking
the way the program adjusts retirement benefits
Instead of using real wage growth, the new plan
would peg allowance increases to the more mildly
paced rate of inflation - a recalculation that would
reduce aggregate benefits by almost 40 percent over
the next five decades. According to proponents,
that extra money can be used to pay down the pro-
gram's transition costs, while individual investment
returns offset, and hopefully even exceed, net ben-
efit cuts. But many Republicans disagree, and thus
far have refused to support any proposal that would
slash benefits or up payroll taxes. This opposition
camp - appropriately dubbed the "free lunchers"
- boasts a relatively large membership of house-
hold conservative names like Newt Gingrich and
Jack Kemp, and seems to enjoy the public relation
perks. Even Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), one
of the president's most devoted allies on tax reform,
has helped herself to the free lunch.
The Democrats should consider themselves
blessed. Just when all hope seemed lost, the GOP
spit Social Secuirty right back at the President.
With the intensity of the current intra-party grid
lock, a reform proposal would be lucky to make it
out of committee by the end of 2005. Democrats
should savorthis'stroke of good fortune, but they
can't push their luck. The party needs order almost
as much as it needs a powerful image, and neither
will come without effective leadership.
Singer can be reached
at singers@umich.edu


Pro-choice advocate
explains her position
In response to Gideon D'Assandro's letter (Argu-
ments presented for abortion are flawed, 01/14/2005)
concerning the Students For Choice board (Col-
umnist misunderstands nature of abortion debate,
01/12/2005) and Greg Malivuk (Abortion, beating
with a bat are different, 01/12/2005), I would like to
make a clarification.
Students for Choice does not advocate abortion
as a means of birth control, nor does it rally for the
appropriation of tax-payer money to subsidize abor-
tion. The purpose of SFC is to make abortion the
last choice a woman makes. The pro-choice position
advocates education and the provision of alternative

methods of birth control to avoid unplanned preg-
In regards to both letters, their intention was to
combat the dangerous notion that domestic violence
and murder are comparable to methods that doctors
perform to terminate a pregnancy. I believe Mali-
vuk's point was to challenge the statement made
by Adams (Pro-choice and hating it, 1/10/2005) that
these incidents are no more of a crime than abortion.
SFC argues that if Roe v Wade were overturned thou-
sands of women will be endangered by the contin-
ued demand for and practice of abortion (of 350,000
estimated abortions, 1,000 women were reported to
have died each year before Roe v. Wade).
The main philosophy of pro-choice advocates is
the constitutionally supported notion that no man
can impose a system of belief upon another man,
or woman as the case appears to be. I do not speak

for the SFC board, but I would like to defend its
argument. In a world where unwed teen mothers
are stigmatized, I do not believe that without proper
education - not just abstinence-only education
- and the financial support of both potential par-
ents, abortion can successfully be abolished. There
is also a refusal of anti-choice law makers to make
exceptions in the cases of rape and incest. It is my
belief that male anti-choice lawmakers lack the
reproductive organs and the experience to take away
the reproductive rights of an entire gender.
In conclusion, I would like to express my regrets
that any woman experiencing an unplanned preg-
nancy would meet condemnation for her choice.
Sarah Tomasik
LSA sophomore
The letter writer is a member of
Students for Choice.


We can't argue about this

In the three weeks following the earthquake
and tsunami disaster that struck Southeast
Asia there has been ample discussion over the
amount of money each country has given to the
relief efforts. The controversy was started by
the words of U.N. Undersecretary for Humani-
tarian Affairs Jan Egeland, who said on Decem-
ber 27, a day after the tsunami, "It is beyond me
why are we so stingy, really. Christmas time
should remind many Western countries at least,
(of) how rich we have become." The next day
though Egeland retracted his prior statement,
remarking, "The international assistance that
has come and been pledged from the United
States, from Europe and from countries in the
region has also been very generous."
The fact that Egeland apologized and retracted
his remarks should have been the end of the story,
but it was too late, because the media was already
rnnnina his first cnmments inceantlv Feeding-

noted "It's absolutely life saving. We are thrilled
that Americans are doing that. They are the only
ones who have the capacity to reach those parts
of the population right now." Egeland added to
the praise saying "The American helicopters are
worth their weight in gold." Administration crit-
ics though looked past the lifesaving done by the
U.S. military and instead acted like a Fortune
500 Chief Executive Officer and looked straight
to the bottom line. They ignored the work of the
brave men and women serving in our military
and concluded that the U.S. pledge of $350 mil-
lion was not enough.
Never mind the fact that donating a large
amount of money won't do very much good if
the relief workers cannot get to the people in
need of help.
These sort of critics oppose the President
regarding everything he does and cannot envi-
sion him doing anything right in the interna-
tional community. They would much rather see
the United Nations playing the leading role in
the relief effort which means then were espe-

tinues to arm a militia responsible for the slaugh-
ter of thousands of people and the displacement
of a million more. The Security Council though
refuses to pass U.S. sponsored sanctions on the
genocidal Sudanese government. Meanwhile in
Haiti, the United Nations has actually achieved
some success by managing to get Haiti's leaders
to sign a plan for elections later this year. Dur-
ing 2004, the U.S. contributed over $113 million
to Haiti, and is going to give $150 million in
2005. Such statistics hardly make a case that
these places are not cared about by the United
States. Also, it should not be forgotten that the
United States still pays for 25 percent of the
United Nation's regular budget and 31 percent of
the peacekeeping budget.
Sadly, this unnecessary debate over ill-found-
ed claims of negligence occurred because of
Egeland's comments and because of the impa-
tience of some with their government's response
to an ever-changing situation. This is disturbing
because countries should be given time to evalu-
ate and analyze freauently changing situations

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