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The McLaughlin Group

Issues: NSA Surveillance; Korean Missiles; Greece and Eurozone; Social Security and 2016 Election

Participants:
John McLaughlin, Host
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Tom Rogan, National Review/Daily Telegraph
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, June 5, 2015
Broadcast: Weekend of June 5-7, 2015


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ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Issue One: NSA Shutdown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People say, "How will we protect ourselves without these programs?" What about using the Constitution? What about using judicial warrants?

The Tsarnaev boy, the Boston bomber, they say, how will we look at his phone record? Get a warrant, put his name on it. You can get a warrant. There’s no reason in the world. The guy had already bombed us. Do you think anybody who’s going to turn down a warrant?

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Earlier this week, Congress engaged in a heated showdown over the National Security Agency, otherwise known as the NSA. At contention were three NSA programs used to monitor terrorist communications.

One involves maintaining records of phone numbers and times and duration of calls made over U.S. telephone network. Another involves roving wiretaps that cover disposable cellphones. The final involves so-called lone wolf surveillance that covers monitoring of terrorist suspects, unaffiliated with established terrorist groups.

But this time, the traditional battle line, Democrat versus Republicans, were replaced by public intramural Republican feuding. Just watch this heated face-off between Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: People don’t know the rules of the Senate. Maybe they should learn --

PAUL: Mr. President, I request the remaining five minutes of time on the opposite side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there an objection to the request of the senator from Kentucky?

MCCAIN: I object.

MCLAUGHLIN: In the end, a compromise won out. On Tuesday night, by a 67-32 margin, the U.S. Senate passed the USA Freedom Act, that had already been passed by the House of Representatives. President Obama then signed it into law.

The act reauthorizes many expired surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act, now defunct, but forces the NSA to seek warrants from telecommunications companies to access metadata. Then, over the next few months, that metadata will be gradually transferred from NSA mainframes to phone companies.

Still, some like Rand Paul are not satisfied. They insist the new law is overly authoritarian.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How big a political victory was this for Senator Rand Paul?

Pat Buchanan?

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: It’s a terrific victory for Rand Paul, for the reason, John, that it moves him back in, reestablishes him as Mr. Libertarian inside the Republican Party. It differentiates him from the other candidates, nine others of whom have already been announced. I think -- and it also makes of a foil of John McCain, which is what Rand Paul really wants.

I think it’s a victory but I do agree, in terms of substance, I don’t think the changes are all that great. All these data is available to the phone companies and the NSA can call it in as soon as they want.

ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, what Rand Paul is doing is catnip on the Internet and he certainly raised his profile and regenerated interest in his candidacy, principally among young people, and libertarians. But it’s such a Pyrrhic victory. He got a 48-hour sensation on this program. The phone companies will now hold the data. In fact, they’ve been holding it already. So, nothing really changes.

And do you really comfortable with the civil liberties option being that the Verizon guy gets to know what you’re doing? I mean, it was a lot of grandstanding about not very much.

MCLAUGHLIN: Was this also a victory for Edward Snowden?

TOM ROGAN, NATIONAL REVIEW/DAILY TELEGRAPH: Yes, to some degree. The problem with Edward Snowden is it’s not just these programs that he released. There’s tens of thousands of documents that range across huge amount of issues, not just domestic surveillance. Surveillance against foreign targets. You know, which has created major diplomatic problems for the United States.

But I think Eleanor makes a very important point there, that -- you know, look, I would actually be more comfortable with the NSA having control over this, with all of the government bureaucracy that looks at that, that can bring people to account, rather than a private company that has private interests and now has a lot of private information.

You look at what Google and Facebook do, for example, in terms of looking at their viewer base, looking at what people are looking on a particular site and then sending ads to them.

Private companies know a lot about Americans, and quite frankly, if we’re going to be honest about this, it should be a process of us saying, okay, we need to know what each person has and it has a kind of level of equilibrium.

MCLAUGHLIN: Is this a defeat for Barack Obama?

MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Well, in part, it is. But I think this has been an issue that has been brewing for quite a while. It’s interesting. In New York City, we have something similar in a certain way, where we have a lot of stop and frisk actions on the part of the police. We had 675,000 stop and frisk events a couple of years ago. It’s now down to like 27,000, just a complete drop.

But now, the crime is beginning to go up. So, you haven’t dealt with these issues in a serious way.

CLIFT: Well --

BUCHANAN: The real division in society is, John, sort of a communitarian outlook, which we got after 9/11, want the Patriot Act, we all want to be safer. We’re willing to give up a few freedoms. And then, after a while, time goes on and people say, look, they’re violating the Fourth Amendment. They’re doing this.

The libertarian consciousness, if you will, rises against the communitarian. And that’s what’s happening right now.

CLIFT: Yes, but the USA Freedom Act which the president signed this week, which is the compromise, got 338 votes in the House and then, finally, almost, what 70 votes in the Senate.

So, this is not a defeat for President Obama. I mean, he has actually tried to bring some oversight to these programs and he’s continued a lot of the programs from the Bush era, trying to find that uncomfortable compromise.

MCLAUGHLIN: Governor Lincoln Chafee, who just declared himself a Democrat and is running for the presidency, says in the aftermath of this vote that Edward Snowden should be allowed to return to the U.S. without punishment. Is that a good idea, Tom?

ROGAN: No, I don’t think it’s a good idea, for the reasons I mentioned before. It’s not just he leaked program side, the guy -- he’s also -- you know, first, he went to China, right? Which we know this week, with the OPM, they love to do the hacking. Then, he went to Russia, I guarantee you the FSB, which is keeping him on a short leash, gets -- he’s probably singing songs to them as well.

Look, he did -- he leaked some things. He could have done a whistleblower defense had he done a limited amount of stuff. I think this would have been perhaps one.

CLIFT: He started a huge debate.

ROGAN: He did.

CLIFT: And a much needed debate in this country and he’s a hero to a lot of people.

ROGAN: But he released tens of thousands of documents which damaged our national security.

CLIFT: The Friday "New York Times", he’s got almost the entire op-ed page. So --

BUCHANAN: He broke his oath, he broke the law and he ought to be prosecuted if he comes home to the full extent of the law.

MCLAUGHLIN: He gave secret information.

ROGAN: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: Ultra secret information to Russia and China.

BUCHANAN: He acted dishonorably.

MCLAUGHLIN: The former governor of Rhode Island is right.

CLIFT: There should be a plea bargain.

MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: does the USA Freedom Act strike a proper balance between freedom and security? Yes or no?

Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN: I think by and large, it probably does.

CLIFT: I agree.

ROGAN: I think by and large.

ZUCKERMAN: I agree, I agree.

ROGAN: That private issue is important.

MCLAUGHLIN: Universal agreement, that’s what we don’t like on THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP.

ROGAN: No, but the private companies have too much.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Going Ballistic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): In 2012, communist North Korea sent a long range rocket into space. The North claimed that its launch was a space vehicle test. But the international community disagreed. It believes that the launch was actually testing North Korea’s under-development intercontinental ballistic missile system.

Since then, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been increasing. And get this, just last month, the North released footage of its leader, Kim Jong-un, supervising what it described as a successful ballistic missile launch from a North Korean submarine.


While the U.S. and the South Korean governments have not confirmed that claim, the North’s increasing hostile behavior is raising new concerns. And the North’s propaganda messaging is also picking up steam.

This video was released by North Korean state television in April, its celebration attack on a South Korean island in 2010 and threatens to, quote-unquote, "turn Seoul into a sea of flames by our strong and cruel artillery firepower". Seoul is the capital of South Korea.

Facing these threats, the South Korean government is not sitting idle. On Wednesday, the South conducted its own ballistic missile test and claims it can target all of our North Korea in the event of any conflict.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Given North Korea’s overwhelming advantage over South Korea in ballistic missiles, should the U.S. further relax its restrictions on Seoul’s missiles to restore the balance of power? Seoul being the capital of South Korea?

Tom Rogan?

ROGAN: Yes, I think the United States should be -- I mean, look, one of the good things from this is that South Korea is taking more ownership. It’s a powerful economy now. For a long time, they kind of allowed the United States to provide their security.

But it is a sign that we need to be there. We need to be visible. We do need to have one of the problems that we have at the moment is because of sequester, we don’t have to carry our fleets out. That sends a message to the North Korean.

President Obama, to his credit, in 2010, deployed a carrier after they started shelling an island and that actually deterred them. But we need to send a message of resolve.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

CLIFT: The reason the world is not that exorcised over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities is because they haven’t had a delivery system. If this is true -- and that’s a huge if because nobody is confirming it, the administration seems kind of relax about it -- then it would be a big problem.

But right now, they have all the conventional weaponry to overtake South Korea any moment that they want, but they can’t get a missile any further than, say, one of the far out Aleutian islands.

And so, this bears watching, but I really think that this is in the realm of exaggeration.

MCLAUGHLIN: Under current restrictions, the U.S. only allows the South Koreans -- they’re our allies, so to speak -- to have missiles at range up to 500 miles and small warheads under 1,100 pounds. North Korea, by contrast, has ballistic missiles that can hit of all of South Korea and Japan.

Why does the Obama administration want to keep South Korea’s ballistic missiles limited in capacity? Pat?

BUCHANAN: Five hundred miles is enough to hit all of North Korea, John. Look, but you got to look at this, I’m a little more concerned than others. Kim Jong-un just took his General Dempsey, the head of all his armed forces, who fell asleep during a speech, put him against the wall and executed him with an anti-aircraft gun.

He got his uncle and apparently threw his uncle to wild dogs -- who was his chief advisor and mentor. And they’ve got, they do have ballistic missiles -- land based ballistic missiles, and I’m not sure they haven’t married a nuclear weapon to that.

But I disagree with Tom. I would get, one of its problems is, he’s paranoid about the Americans. I would get our ground troops out of South Korea, rely on air naval power. South Korea has twice the population of the North and 40 times the economy, and tell the South Koreans, you’ve got to start spending more than 3 percent or 4 percent for your own defense.

CLIFT: He’s a paranoid leader, but I’m sure he’s got a bunker there that would protect him from any missile attack. I mean, I just don’t think more missiles are the answer to that conflict.

ROGAN: What they’re trying to do, to extend the range to send the message that in the event of war, you have a big fuel capacity.

MCLAUGHLIN: Why does the Obama administration want to keep South Korea’s ballistic missiles limited in capacity?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think they consider the leadership of South Korea to be something other than the most responsible government you could want to have as an ally, to put it mildly.

MCLAUGHLIN: Who’s the president of South Korea?

ROGAN: Park.

MCLAUGHLIN: How old is she?

BUCHANAN: A woman.

ROGAN: I think 40s.

MCLAUGHLIN: How long is she had the job? Forty --

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: She’s the daughter of Chung-hee Park.

CLIFT: She’s fine.

MCLAUGHLIN: How old is she?

BUCHANAN: She’s in her 40s.

CLIFT: She’s fine. She’s not the problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: I think she’s in her 60s – she’s been around a long time.

BUCHANAN: But she is a tough customer, John. But, you know, I just think -- with regard, here’s what we ought to do, we ought to tell the Chinese, that if you don’t do something about their atomic weapons, we are getting out of this area and you can deal with the Japanese and South Koreans, who will build their own nuclear weapons, to wake these guys up.

CLIFT: It’s kind of tit-for-tat -- I mean, South Korea responded to these latest missile demonstration. And I think the administration doesn’t want the tit for tat to get out of hand. And that’s been going on for some time. That is not new.

MCLAUGHLIN: What is the classic solution in diplomacy to prevent conflict between two neighboring hostile powers?

Mort Zuckerman?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, the classic solution is that there is a secret negotiation in which they each somehow or another compromise enough so that both of them are recently comfortable. This is going to be very difficult in this situation.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: The East and West Germany got together, as a Confederacy and the Union didn’t get together --

(CROSSTALK)

ZUCKERMAN: Never a perfect solution.

CLIFT: Or else it’s military parody which you can’t achieve with North Korea because they have this, they have everybody in the army and they can overrun South Korea very easily.

MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Should the U.S. help South Korea, our ally, so to speak, right, build a missile defense system? Or should the U.S. ease restrictions on Seoul, and let the South Koreans build up their missile arsenal?

BUCHANAN: You don’t want to build up the South Korean missile arsenal where it goes more than 500 miles and brings Japan in as a target and brings the -- China in as a target. I do think you would tell the South Koreans, we’re going to move our ground troops out of that front line and you fill those up and then you’ll have access to the greatest weapons in the world in self defense and we will be offshore.

CLIFT: You don’t want to encourage an arms race between South Korea and North Korea and Japan, God forbid. But South Korea is not a so-called ally. They’re a strong ally.

ROGAN: The way I describe Kim Jong-un, you know, the North Korean regime, is that it’s like a child throwing toys, right, they want attention. The problem is he has now nuclear weapons. And the reason I think you need ground troops, it’s a physical representation of American power.

And also, I actually tend to disagree with Pat. I think the South Koreans having those long range missiles is actually to give the Chinese a cake in the --

MCLAUGHLIN: Is South Korea our ally, right, Eleanor?

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: But they need to spend more in defense, yes.

BUCHANAN: We got a 1954, I believe, it is mutual security treaty. They are a real ally.

ZUCKERMAN: That’s right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Have they ever been otherwise?

BUCHANAN: No, they have not been. Since the United States took over South Korea and the Russians took over the North, and since the war of 1950.

MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, this is looking way ahead, but there’s a submarine -- submarine business involved in this. If the North gets an atomic bomb on a submarine, then gets a way of refueling, maybe in Guam --

BUCHANAN: We’re going to refuel it for them.

(LAUGHTER)

CLIFT: That would be trouble --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: They could attack Guam.

MCLAUGHLIN: They’ll take it out.

BUCHANAN: Oh, listen, I’ll tell you, we got a nuclear weapon --

MCLAUGHLIN: OK, they’re on the way to the United States, that’s what they really want to do. Is that conceivable?

BUCHANAN: I’d tell them to turn around?

MCLAUGHLIN: I had that dream the other night.

ROGAN: We send the Los Angeles class and the Seawolf, and Virginia class out and sink their ships. Put it to rest.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Greece on the Brink.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YANIS VAROUFAKIS, FINANCE MINISTER OF GREECE: It would be a disaster primarily for the Greek social economy, but it will also be the beginning of the end of the common currency project in Europe, whatever some analysts maybe saying about firewalls, these firewalls won’t last long, once you put -- infuse into people’s minds and to investors’ minds the idea that Eurozone is not indivisible. It will be only a matter of time before the whole thing begins to unravel.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The Eurozone was in crisis again this week. Greece faced a Friday deadline to access $8 billion in new bailout money from its creditors. Greece needs the money to support its struggling economy and for payments to existing creditors, like the International Monetary Fund. And there’s a glitch -- now led by an avowed socialist government that’s deeply opposed to so-called "austerity spending reforms", Greece is reluctant to agree to creditor demands for major structural reforms and spending cuts. And note this: Greece still has $360 billion in sovereign debt.

Still supported by France and Germany, Greece’s creditors are playing hardball, and saying that no money will be offered without reform. Here’s how French President Francois Hollande explains their position.

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT: We will be saying the same thing, that is to say we want Greece to remain in the Eurozone, but at the same time, we also want to find a lasting solution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew went to Europe last week to broker a grand bargain between the E.U. and Athens. Why is the Obama administration concerned about the Greek crisis?

Do you want to hit that again?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, let me tell you something, the Greek crisis is serious, not just because it’s Greece, but because it says a great deal about the whole of the European financial markets, OK? And you have a situation today where there’s a lot of concern over the -- shall we say even the United States’ economy is very weak. So, there’s a lot of concern about who’s going to back this up.

You got to have a level of confidence and security that these things are not going to unravel because then it feeds on itself and we can face a real financial crisis.

BUCHANAN: The fear is that Greece could be a Lehman Brothers of the coming financial crisis. And both -- but Europeans seem to be saying they’re better prepared now for an exit by Greece than they were. They’re playing a little tougher, John. By the end of June, Greece has got to come up with what, $1.7 billion for the IMF.

But ultimately, I think Europe has got to prepare itself for the fact that these southern economies, Greece and others, just simply aren’t going to live up to the standards of Germany and Finland and countries like that, and they probably should have a dual tier Eurozone system, or they should be allowed to get out.

CLIFT: Look, it may be morally unsatisfying to look at the Greeks and say, they live beyond their means, why should they be rewarded? But there’s some economic truths there, and that is if Greece gets out of the E.U., they’re in worse shape and so is the E.U. And so, I think there’s going to be a lot of these dancing, and you know, playing chicken and game theory. And in the end, I think they’re going to work this out and they already came to a deal this weekend where they can package how much they owe and they can pay the end June, which gives them access to a bigger bailout package.

(LAUGHTER)

CLIFT: But Greeks have suffered. Their unemployment rate is 28 percent, for goodness’ sake.

MCLAUGHLIN: Let me --

CLIFT: You don’t want to bring them to their knees.

MCLAUGHLIN: Let me a little research that I don’t think you’ve done for yourself. Maybe you haven’t. But in the "Financial Times" for Friday, May the 5th, "Greece in the final hour of plea for sanity," that’s a title of a letter written by Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University Nobel Prize winner.

He says, "How Greece is treated will send a message to all its Eurozone partners. Like the Marshall Plan, let it be one of hope, not despair."

He’s joined here by an array of other world leaders --

ROGAN: Luminaries.

MCLAUGHLIN: -- who are teachers. But did I give you enough background on him?

ROGAN: Yes. Look, John, I think the issue here is that, you know, Greece has for a long time lived beyond its means. It still is. There is a delusion at the heart of this, which -- you know, the tax collection is awful, a lot of corruption, massive overspending, massively inefficient public sector -- that needs to be reformed.

Tsipras, which was elected, the socialist government is living in delusion as socialists tend to do about reality of that. But at the same time, again, why Tsipras is having some success playing hardball is that, you know, if -- the European Union know if they go out, big problems for the project.

CLIFT: And they will offer a compromise with pension reform.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: Yes. You know, the pension is a social contract. You can’t pull the rug out for people --

ROGAN: The whole country is in --

CLIFT: -- you have to do that gradually.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: There’s a reason for a bankruptcy.

MCLAUGHLIN: All right.

BUCHANAN: There’s a reason for a bankruptcy court that some people are bankrupt. And, frankly, Greece’s owed -- its debt is twice the size of the economy.

ZUCKERMAN: Right.

BUCHANAN: They can’t make it. So, you all got to look at it realistically. The debtors or the creditors are not going to be paid back.

CLIFT: Hair cut, hair cut time.

MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let’s see if this makes you think any differently. This is again --

ROGAN: Stiglitz.

MCLAUGHLIN: This is again --

BUCHANAN: Stiglitz?

MCLAUGHLIN: Stiglitz. Clearly revised (INAUDIBLE).

"Clearly a revised, longer-term agreement with the creditor institutions is necessary: otherwise default is inevitable, imposing great risks on the economies of Europe and the world, and even for the European project that the Eurozone was supposed to strengthen."

BUCHANAN: That’s exactly correct. Look, the creditors are going to take a big bad haircut if they’re going to stay in the European the Eurozone. That’s all there is to it.

MCLAUGHLIN: If Greece exits the Eurozone, will Russia and China extend an economic lifeline to Athens?

BUCHANAN: No, they’ll go back to the drachma.

CLIFT: They’re going to stay in the Eurozone.

ROGAN: I think they’ll probably stay, because, you know, Tsipras is playing hardball and the Germans don’t want them out, and the E.U. will fail.

ZUCKERMAN: They will stay in the Eurozone. If there’s any possible way of doing it, the alternatives are so much worse than that. But they’re all only bad choices here. This is what I call the evil of two lesser. There’s just nothing here that’s going to help either side. But somebody is going to have to face up to the difficult problem, because if you don’t resolve it, then you have another major league problem that is going to be much more worse than we’re talking about.

MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Greece stays on.

Issue Four: Jeb Grabs the Third Rail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: For people that are about ready to vis-a-vis beneficiaries of their supplemental retirement, I don’t think we change that. But we need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70. And that by itself will help sustain the retirement system for anybody under the age of 40.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): That was Jeb Bush, speaking last week to CBS News’ now retired Bob Schieffer. And Jeb gave Bob a major final story, asserting that were he to become president, he’d likely engaged in major reforms of America’s Social Security system.

Long the third rail of American politics, Social Security reformed has flummoxed many presidents. George W. Bush pursued an effort to transfer a part of the Social Security system into optional private investment accounts. He failed. President Obama also proposed reforms to Social Security, but backed away after facing Democratic pressure. And that speaks to a broader point -- whoever the Democratic nominee for president turns out to be in 2016, she or he will face heavy pressure from the Democratic base, which does not favor any change to Social Security.

Here’s how Bernie Sanders, himself a Democratic candidate for president, encapsulates that view.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do we stand with them and expand Social Security? Or do we listen to those on Wall Street and corporate America who want to cut Social Security benefits and in some cases want to privatize Social Security?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Is Social Security likely to be a major issue in the presidential election? I ask you, Eleanor.

CLIFT: Yes, in the sense that watching Jeb Bush propose raising the age from 65 to 67 or 68, or 70 -- first of all, it’s already been raised to 67. And he really reveals himself as a rich person who has no idea what this program means to many people in this country. So, I don’t think he has a winning message.

And Governor Christie, New Jersey Governor Christie, has already come out on a Social Security platform of trimming.

And Democrats are going to run on expanding and strengthening it. And in an age of income inequality, I think the Democratic message is going to be a lot more appealing than this allocation --

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: The retirement age, John, right now, is 66, so, I don’t know, Bush is not right on it and it is moving up. And this is a series issue if you want to get the budget under control.

But I’ll tell you this -- you start talking about the cost of living increase, or raising taxes on Social Security, or raising the age, you’ll get a nice editorials in a number of newspapers and you will be slaughtered I think in a race for the Democratic nominee in November.

MCLAUGHLIN: OK, let’s start from the beginning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because it has become increasingly difficult for individuals to build their own security single-handed, government must now step in and help them lay the foundation stones, just as government in the past has helped lay the foundation of business and industry.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): That was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, FDR, speaking two years before the first monthly Social Security check was issued in 1940. In the 1930s and 1940s, Social Security was controversial. But since then, Social Security has become a staple of American retirement, something that voters expect to receive and believe they’re entitled to.

Yet today’s Social Security system is on thin ice. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, without reform, both the disability insurance trust fund and the old age and survivors insurance trust fund will go bankrupt by 2032.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question, multiple choice quiz:

What’s the best way to make Social Security solvent? (A), delay retirement, (B) raise FICA taxes, (C), root out fraud and waste, (D), reduce benefits either by means testing or across the board, (E), all of the above?

ROGAN: I think all of the above if my generation wants to have access to Social Security, we better reform. 2033, the trust fund runs out. There will be income transfers to pay for that. But it just increases that federal debt, interest rates just buries the economy in debt.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, 10 seconds.

ZUCKERMAN: I think we -- anything that’s going to make this system solvent is necessary. You just can’t sit here and let it explode, because it’d be a national tragedy and everybody is going to have to pay the price in one form or another.

CLIFT: Well, raising --

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

CLIFT: Raising the cap so that people with the higher income levels continue to pay into the system is the most obvious thing to do.

MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

BUCHANAN: I already do, Eleanor.

MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye!

END