Ups and Downs for the Week of February 23 - 27

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", February 28, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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UP: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Greenspan issues a very public and much-needed wakeup call on the broken Social Security (search) system. Here he is testifying before the House Budget Committee.


ALAN GREENSPAN, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: I think it is terribly important to make certain that we communicate to the people who are about to retire what it is they're going to have to live with. And if we promise more than we can actually physically deliver, I think it will be a major blot on our whole fiscal process.


BARNES: Mort, you wouldn't have thought that would have been an incendiary statement. But it turned out to be. I mean, Washington goes crazy when somebody like Alan Greenspan steps out and tells the truth, that Social Security is going to go broke at some date in the future, not immediately, but soon enough.

Now, he had a couple of, he had one suggestion, I have another. His suggestion was, look, the COLAs, the cost-of-living adjustments, everybody knows overestimate inflation. Bring it down to a legitimate inflation rate, and it will save folks -- Social Security costs, and is not really, it's not an illegitimate cut or unfair cut in Social Security. It would be a small cut. But with so many recipients, it would make a big difference.

And secondly, the ... voluntary investment accounts that Bush and others have proposed that would allow people to take some of their payroll tax money and invest it would help, because they would also have to agree to take lower Social Security benefits. But they'd come out ahead in the long run, but it would save Social Security money.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes. I, I do not think that George Bush feels as though Alan Greenspan did him any favors by bringing this up at this time.


KONDRACKE: Because, because...

BARNES: I was right, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... the Democrats ... immediately pounce on it and say...


KONDRACKE: ... Aha, that's what the Republicans want to do is to cut your Social Security benefits. And Bush goes out of his way to say that current recipients will not get any less in benefits ... which is a little bit ... at odds with what Greenspan is saying.


KONDRACKE: But now, and the problem with what Bush wants to do, and I agree with your second point, I completely agree that we ought to have private savings accounts for younger workers. The problem is that the transition costs of that is a trillion dollars...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... over a 10-year period, and Bush has already blown that money on ... on tax cuts for you and me.

BARNES: On wasteful spending?

KONDRACKE: No, on tax cuts.

BARNES: Oh, come on.

KONDRACKE: On tax cuts.

BARNES: But, but those are my money. He hasn't wasted it. It's gone to us. And that expands the economy, raises more taxes as a result.

KONDRACKE: But he can't pay for his own ... program.

DOWN: Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

It's becoming a question of when, not if, Aristide is going to be -- is forced to step down as president of the embattled Caribbean nation. And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Look, this is ... a man who, although legitimately elected at one point, and then fraudulently elected a second time, you know, has completely destroyed his country, and now he's paying the price.

The question is, you know, are we going to ease it, ease him out of there and get him a sanctuary, or is France going to take charge of this? I'm not very impressed with the decisiveness of the Bush administration's handling of all this.

BARNES: Well, of course you're not. That's because Bush hasn't been decisive. Neither has anybody else in his administration.

My view is that, look, if Bush is going to crusade, and I think he should crusade, for democracy around the world, especially in Iraq, how can he ignore Haiti? How can he let the French come in there? The last people we want ... to come in there are the French ... and this is not, I mean, this is our turf. This is our neighborhood.

And the Bush administration has to do it. If it means sending in American troops, so be it. It wouldn't take that many. All right.

DOWN: Radio Shock Jock Howard Stern

A favorite of Mort. Discussion of a man's sexual encounter with Paris Hilton (search) proved to be too much for radio station conglomerate Clear Channel (search). They pulled Stern's radio show off six markets, the result of its recent zero-tolerance policy on indecency.

KONDRACKE: Well, as "The Beltway Boys" official resident prude, I say...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... it is about time.

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: And, you know, this guy has been, been, been polluting the airwaves for years, and, you know, he's been fined and stuff like that.


KONDRACKE: It was finally time that somebody...


KONDRACKE: ... at least one, one of his ... sponsoring ... networks pulled him off. But he's still on Infinity Broadcasting. I'd like to see him off there too.

BARNES: Mort, you know what Howard Stern says about guys like you?

KONDRACKE: Yes. Fascist pigs.

BARNES: Yes, listen.


HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: These fascist right-wing are getting so much freakin' power, you got to take back the country. That's my last words to you. I don't know how many more days I have on the air.


KONDRACKE: Not many, not many.

BARNES: Now, Stern also says he's being persecuted like Jesus Christ (search). Please.


BARNES: Please.


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