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Enough is enough! We’ve just got to . stop doling subsidies. I mean, let ’em pay thei out so much welfare like giving people all these federal housing r own way like you and I dg without Uncle Sugar’s’ help right? JIM HIGHTOWER Domestic Welfare ack off there, Budget Whacker! You’re getting dangerously close to me when’ you talk like that. You see, the biggest housing subsidy by far is not for poor people…but the $51 billion tax subsidy that we homeowners get on our mortgages each year : All of the interest that I pay on my home loan is deductible from my taxesa very nice break, I don’t mind saying. But the break I get on my little home is nothing compared to the subsidy enjoyed by, say, Donald Trump on his family mansionplus his condo in the city, his place in the country, his mountain chteau in Aspen, his townhouse. in Miami and his vacation compound in Southern California. That’s right! No matter hOw many homes they have, the Donnie Trumps of the world have all of their many mortgages subsidized by Tommie and Tammie Taxpayer. What a deal. The more homes you have and the more expensive your homes are…the more subsidy you get! . Is this a great country or what? Let’s look at some numbers. Most Americans make under $30,000 a year. Less than 3 percent of these folks get any mortgage subsidy at all, and those who do average $486. But if you’re one of the handful of Americans making more than $200,000 a year, you almost certainly have at least one subsidized home, and your average take from the taxpayers is $8,500. Here’s my cut-the-welfare proposal: Until everyone in our country has one decent home, we shouldn’t subsidize any one’s second homes. The money we save should be used to finance affordable housing for the millions of working Americans now priced out of the housing market. CRISIS OF THIEVES When it comes to all the scare talk from Washington about the social security “crisis,” remember the old line from “Dragnet”: “Just the facts, ma’am.” The fact is, there is. no crisis, but we’ll all have a crisis if we let Newt Gingrich’ s Gang of “Reformers” get their hands on our retirement money. Fact No. 1: Social Security is a program that works. It exists as a compact between generations. The money I put into it now goes into the trust fund that pays today’s retirees. Tom6rrow, when I’m retired, the generation behind me will be paying into the fund to cover my benefits. Then, when that generation retires, the ones behind them will do their part…and so on. Fact No. 2: Since some generations of retirees are larger than others, the social security tax has to be adjusted to keep the trust fund flush. This needs to be done today, but this is an adjustment, not a crisis, and it doesn’t even require a big adjustment. Fact No. 3: : The problem is not in the viability of the trust fund, but in the fact that Congress keeps raiding it, using the surpluses we’ve amassed in that fund to finance everything from the Pentagon buildup to corporate welfare. We should not be trusting our trust fund to Congress, but in: stead we should make it off limits to anything but paying for retirements. Fact No. 4: The same fat-fingered lawmakers who have looted the fund, now want to use its depleted condition as an excuse to turn the ‘whole system over to Wall Street, claiming the trust fund could earn more if it were invested in things like junk bonds and foreign currencies. What they don’t mention is that you’ll be more likely to win in Las Vegas than on these Wall Street scams, and that the Wall Street brokers would skim up to $40 billion a year in fees off the top. Those . who claim we must corporatize social security to “save” it…are thieves. LEGAL WHORING Maybe you had a few friends over to watch the Super Bowl last month, serving up a fridge full of breWskis and a bucket of onion dip. But did you think of charging them $6,000 each to watch the game with you? John Linder and Bill Paxon did. Linder is from Georgia and Paxon from New York two top-ranking Republicans in Congress who wh.6red out on Super Bowl Sunday for any corporate lobbyist who would pay $6,000 a pop to sit with them at the game and whisper sweet nothingS in their ears. If lobbyists wanted a cheaper date, they could have had Democrat David Boinor and the whole Louisiana congressional delegation at the Super Bowl for only $2,500. Maybe football isn’t your cup of tea. How about skiing? Congressman Michael Oxley of Ohio and other Republican lawmakers who oversee legislation affecting utilities played hosts to more than forty industry lobbyists for several days of skiing and hobnobbing in Vail, Colorado. The lobbyists paid $3,000 each to be part of this exclusive rendezvous, plus paying for their air fares and for rooms costing up to $1,785. a night. Wow, you want to make sure you get kissed for that kind of moolah. In addition to quality time with the lawmakers on the’ski lifts and intimate dinners at night, the lobbyists got a policy briefing from these key committee members each morning. One lobbyist explained to The New York Times why it is worth the big bucks to spend a weekend like this. “You become more of a known quantity to a lot of congressmen. You become really familiar when you go out with them on these trips. You’re not just a name on a tag.” Representative Oxley snapped, “This is all perfectly legal.” Yeah, Mike, but only because whores like you write the rules on what’s legal. To help chase the whores out of the Capitol, contact the Center for Responsive Jim Hightower is a former Observer editor and Texas Agriculture Commissioner. His nationwide , radio show broadcasts daily from Austin, Texas. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15 MARCH 14, 1997