Social Question

syz's avatar

What's your reaction to this (alleged) Warren Buffet plan?

Asked by syz (32192 points ) October 17th, 2011

This has been making it’s way around Facebook, and I have no idea if it’s legit. And while I appreciate the frustration that makes the tone and content somewhat attractive, I can’t help but think that it’s a bit of fantasy. So I’m asking those more politically (and Constitutionally) savvy than myself for comments:

END THE DEFICIT IN 5 MINUTES!

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best
quotes about the debt ceiling: “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,”
he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a
deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are
ineligible for re-election.”

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took
only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded
it. That was in 1971…before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or
less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.
Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a
minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of
those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States
of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should
be passed around.

“CONGRESSIONAL REFORM ACT OF 2011”
1. No Tenure/No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

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7 Answers

Qingu's avatar

This is really stupid.

It’s really stupid to lump all members of “Congress” together.

It’s really stupid to ignore the actual positions that individual Congresspeople have, as well as the huge differences in the positions of either political party towards the deficit. It’s also stupid to ignore the fact that one party is much, much more intransigent about negotiating laws and policies than the other.

I find this kind of thing tends to be a way for ignorant people to feel good about themselves because they can portray themselves as “above the fray” of partisanship.

Qingu's avatar

In particular, #5 irks the hell out of me. Because it is the stated position of many Democratic congresspeople who support single-payer insurance.

saint's avatar

Good luck, Warren. Legislation originates and would be voted on by the very people who would lose their perks, priviledges, and power if it would ever pass. That would be sort of like expecting the Al Saud to abdicate because it is the right thing to do.

marinelife's avatar

From Factcheck.org:

“This latest rant against Congress has been circulating since the start of the year, urging passage of a “reform act” to correct abuses of power by Congress. But as we often find with these chain messages, the author doesn’t know very much about the subject.

He or she (the author is anonymous, of course) repeats a number of false claims that we have debunked before. The author:

* Demands that members of Congress be forced to “participate in Social Security.” But members of Congress already participate, paying Social Security payroll taxes just like nearly every other worker. Once upon a time that wasn’t true, but members of Congress were brought under Social Security way back in 1984. Yet bogus claims like this continue to circulate more than a quarter-century later, despite our best efforts.
* Urges that “Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose.” But as we’ve explained before, the idea that Congress has exempted itself from many of its own laws is also somewhat out of date. A law enacted in 1995 applied 13 civil rights, labor, and workplace safety and health laws to Congress, removing the basis for earlier criticisms. It’s true that members of Congress retain a degree of immunity from arrest or prosecution, but changing that require an amendment to the Constitution, which grants that immunity in Article I, Section 6. (The authors of the Constitution didn’t want any president to try what King Charles I of England had done in 1642 — sending troops to arrest his critics in Parliament.) The message is confused, at first mentioning earlier constitutional amendments, but then describing the proposal as an “act,” which refers to legislation.
* Recommends that “Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.” But Congress doesn’t do that now. Under current law, pay increases are determined by a cost-of-living formula, and they take effect automatically, unless Congress votes to stop them. And in fact, that’s what has happened for the past two years. Congress denied itself any pay raise in 2010 and in 2011, as we’ve reported.
* Calls for stripping members of Congress of their current health care benefits and forcing them to participate “in the same health care system as the American people.” But which “system”? Most Americans are covered either by employer-sponsored health insurance or by various government-sponsored programs, such as Medicare for those age 65 and over or Medicaid for lower-income persons. Currently members of Congress have the same health insurance options as millions of other federal employees and retirees and their families. The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program gives them a wide choice of private insurance plans. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 51 million persons in the U.S. had no health insurance at all in 2009 — just under 17 percent of the population. (The author may have been laboring under the false impression that Congress somehow “exempted” itself from the new health care law, a bit of nonsense that was based on a number of misrepresentations that we addressed last year.)
* Urges that members of Congress should “purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.” But that’s also nonsense. Relatively few Americans buy retirement plans entirely out of their own pockets. In fact, just under half of all Americans worked in 2009 for an employer that sponsors a retirement plan, according to the most recent information from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. And among those who worked full time for the entire year, 54 percent actually participated in an employer-sponsored plan. About 12 percent are self-employed, EBRI says, and so may be in a position to buy a retirement plan for themselves. But 27 percent had incomes of under $10,000 that year, too little to be putting much if anything away for retirement.

The author of this message advocates setting 12-year term limits on members of Congress, saying they “should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.” It also calls for voiding “all contracts” with past and present members of Congress, which may be a clumsy way of calling for cutting off all pension and health care benefits even for those who have already retired. (We’re not sure what “contracts” this person was thinking of.) Those are all opinions, with which readers may choose to agree or disagree. We take no position either way. What we do say is that the author argues for these opinions by making factual claims that betray a profound ignorance of the system he or she proposes to “reform.””

cletrans2col's avatar

Wow. I actually agree with @Qingu about something.

ETpro's avatar

I don’t believe that Warren Buffet would have ever said that. If we had had a balanced budget amendment in place when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the US would have lost WWII and we would have all long since died in Hitler’s crematoriums. His master plan was to enslave all the Earth’s people till his eugenicists could breed enough pure Aryans, then eliminate us all and populate the earth with his blond, blue-eyed paragons of racial purity and mass genocide.

zenvelo's avatar

I don’t believe Warren Buffet had anything to do with this. He would not circulate a program like this via the Internet; he gets plenty of press whenever he wants it.

@marinelife Thanks for the comprehensive rebuttal.

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