Feds Hide Social Security Deal With Mexico
By Dave Eberhart, Newsmax.com, July 3, 2006
"We might be on the cusp of giving billions of dollars worth of our senior's Social Security money to illegal Mexican workers, and it's getting almost no media attention whatsoever," warned Brad Phillips, a spokesman for TREA Senior Citizens League, one of the nation's largest nonpartisan seniors groups with 1.2 million members.
TREA Senior Citizens League filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in U.S. District Court Thursday morning - after what the group styled as "numerous refusals over three years by the U.S. Department of State and Social Security Administration to provide a draft of - or virtually any pertinent information regarding - the impact of the Totalization Agreement with Mexico on the U.S. Social Security Trust Fund."
The Totalization Agreement could allow millions of illegal Mexican workers to draw billions of dollars from the U.S. Social Security Trust Fund. The agreement between the U.S. and Mexico was signed in June 2004, and is awaiting President Bush's signature.
"President Bush has expressed his support for this Agreement, and we believe that regardless of the current immigration debate, his most likely window for signing it is immediately after the 2006 midterm elections when no one is looking," TREA spokesman Brad Phillips told NewsMax.
Once President Bush approves the agreement, which would be done without congressional vote, either house would have 60 days to disapprove the agreement by voting to reject it.
"We are outraged that our government won't tell us how much they plan to take out of the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for the Totalization Agreement with Mexico, and we want to know what they're hiding," said Ralph McCutchen, Chairman of the TREA Senior Citizens League.
"Our 1.2 million elderly members didn't play by the rules and sacrifice through two World Wars so we could fund millions of workers who crossed the border and decided to work here illegally," McCutchen added.
Under the Totalization Agreement, millions of illegal Mexicans working in the United States today could claim benefits from the Social Security Trust Fund for work performed while in the United States illegally. They could do so through immigration amnesty, through which they could claim past Social Security payments for illegal work.
They could also potentially return to Mexico and claim credits for illegal work in the U.S., or claim payments through other as yet undisclosed methods.
The U.S. currently has 21 similar agreements in effect with other nations, which are intended to eliminate dual taxation for persons who work outside their country of origin. All of the agreements are with developed nations with economies similar to that of the U.S....
The agreements allow the Social Security Administration to "totalize" U.S. and foreign credits if the worker has just six quarters, or 18 months, of U.S. coverage.
But, according to TREA, Mexico's retirement system is radically different - since only 40 percent of non-government workers participate, as opposed to 96 percent of America's workers. In addition, the U.S. system is progressive, meaning lower wage earners get back much more than they put in.
Contrast Mexico, where workers get back only what they put in, plus accrued interest.
"The Social Security Trust Fund should be for Americans in their retirement years. I vigorously oppose a Totalization Agreement with Mexico, which would allow millions of illegal Mexicans to access those funds," said Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va.
"The Social Security Administration and State Department should provide TREA Senior Citizens League with the information they are requesting on behalf of seniors. I support a resolution to disapprove Totalization with Mexico if and when the President signs off on this bad deal," Goode added.
According to TREA, the original FOIA request, filed in August 2003, as well as all subsequent requests, demanded a copy of the actual agreement, as well as other relevant documents, including those showing the financial impact the Totalization Agreement with Mexico would have on the U.S. Social Security Trust Fund and on America's senior citizens.
Despite numerous attempts to ascertain such information, the State Department and Social Security Administration steadfastly refused to provide virtually any relevant documents, explained TREA Senior Citizens League spokesperson Brad Phillips.
"Any Social Security exchange with Mexico will cost Americans a king's ransom," said Marti Dinerstein, Fellow with the independent, nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies. (http://www.cis.org) "We should apologize to Mexico for leading them on and get out of this terrible deal."...
According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund will begin paying out more than it is taking in by 2017, and will be exhausted by the year 2040....
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