Lockbox may be making a political comeback

June 9, 2010

Republicans may be coming around to former Vice President Al Gore’s way of thinking. Not on climate change, but on the “lockbox.”

OIL-SPILL/During his failed 2000 presidential bid, Gore talked about setting aside Social Security tax surpluses and putting them in a kind of  “lockbox”  to keep them off limits for other government spending and tax cuts. NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” comedy show made great fun of the Democrat’s comment.

Now Senate Republicans have revived the idea.

Not for Social Security, but for the oil spill clean up fund. Democrats are proposing to increase the oil spill clean up fund tax to 41 cents a barrel from 8 cents a barrel. The increase is part of a bill being considered by the Senate to help the long-term unemployed, offer relief to cash-strapped states and extend some expired business tax breaks.

Democrats said the tax increase is needed to make sure enough money is in the fund to deal with future oil spills. Not all companies have pockets as deep as BP Plc, which has promised to pay for damages caused by the deep water leak in the Gulf of Mexico, Senator Dick Durbin argued during Senate debate on the bill.

The tax increase will ensure taxpayers are not stuck with the tab in case of a future spill caused by a company that is not quite so flush with cash as BP, he said.

Republicans cried foul. They accused Democrats of raising the tax to offset some of the $126 billion cost of the bill.

Democrats are “stealing the money” and using it for other purposes, said Republican Senator David Vitter.

Republicans proposed an amendment that would stop the oil  tax increase from being used to offset the cost of the bill.

Senator John Cornyn said it was not a “lockbox.” But the principle is the same. The amendment would wall off the $15 billion to be raised by the higher oil tax from any use other than cleaning up oil spills or bringing down the debt.

The argument is over accounting concepts that often are difficult to grasp and explain, as Gore found out in 2000.

Gore lost to George W. Bush and the rest is history. The Social Security surpluses have helped mask the cost of tax cuts and government spending and the nation’s debt has more than doubled from $5.6 trillion in 2000 to $13 trillion today.

Photo credit:  Reuters/Lee Celano (An oiled Brown Pelican flaps its wings on a piling near Grand Isle, Louisiana)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

[…] REUTERS: “Republicans Cried Foul. They Accused Democrats Of Raising The Tax To Offset Some Of The $126 Billion Cost Of The Bill. Democrats Are “Stealing The Money” And Using It For Other Purposes, Said Republican Senator David Vitter.” (“Lockbox May Be Making A Political Comeback,” Reuters, 6/9/10) […]

Posted by Dems Searching For Cash In The Oil Cleanup Fund | Virginia Right! | Report as abusive

[…] REUTERS: “Republicans Cried Foul. They Accused Democrats Of Raising The Tax To Offset Some Of The $126 Billion Cost Of The Bill. Democrats Are “Stealing The Money” And Using It For Other Purposes, Said Republican Senator David Vitter.” (“Lockbox May Be Making A Political Comeback,” Reuters, 6/9/10) […]

Posted by Democrats to Raid Oil Spill Cleanup Fund to Pay for Pet Programs | Report as abusive

I guess better late than never, but let’s remind people it was the man who was cheated out of the White House who first pushed this idea.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive


So how exactly did Gore get cheated out of the White House?

Every single recount (even the one led 6 months later by Dick Gephardt and the democrats) showed Bush the winner.

Even in a book about Gore and the recount (sorry the title slips my mind at the moment) the Gore “team” knew the odds were against them picking up a majority of votes to overturn the election results. So Gore acknowledged he lost the election.

Gore was the one who tried to cheat his way into the White House.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

Everyone in the world knows Gore had the majority of votes. The trick was getting those votes thrown out, which is how Bush “won” the election.

Later examinations of the ballots from Florida show that Gore had more votes, and by a large margin, but this headline was overshadowed by 9-11.

Bush won, Gore lost, and the world is still trying to “get over it.”

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

There’s the yellow troll again…right on cue…

Anyway, in the Gore book he and his team knew they didn’t have the votes.

Bush did certainly win the election and it is good the world didn’t have to endure his presidency which would have surely been a disaster making every other president, Carter included look like winners. Obama is proving this assertion correct….42 percent approval rating and falling.

You’ve been quiet Yellow. You empty vessels are like that…Have a nice day.

I really don’t have time for your harassment.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

It never ceases to amaze me how easily you lie, TyC.
You never read Gore’s book, if you did, you would know he never says any such thing.

The Bush vs Gore argument is old and worn out. But the world knows Gore had the votes, but the courts stopped the count. The world knows that the Bush years were nothing but tax cuts for the rich, and death and destruction for everyone else.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

TC’s talking point that Gore and his team knew they didn’t have the votes is their universal argument. But, as usual, they edit the text to suit their ideology.

What the book actually says is, Gore and his team knew they didn’t have the votes on the Supreme Court.

Their lying is pathological, isn’t it.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive

So, what’s the title of the book I am talking about getplaning?

No, there was no mention of the Supreme Court as being the vote denying obstacle to Gore losing the election.

It was clearly for a lack of votes which Dick Gephardt and the democrats found when they did a complete recount six months after the election. Bush won every single recount.

Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s a fact.

Doesn’t really matter anyway. Gore lost and Bush won. End of story.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

Yep, their lying is pathological.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

TC – Not only did Gore win by 540,000 recorded votes in 2000…he won by 5-7 million. First there was the 2000 Judicial Coup and the long-running media con that Bush really did win Florida, although Gore won nationally by 540,000 votes. It wasn’t even the close race the media has misled you to believe. Gore did much, much better than his official recorded vote, nationally as well as in Florida.

Here is the 1988-2008 unadjusted state exit poll data and the 1988-2008 State and National True Vote Models. Both are Google Doc spreadsheet workbooks.
http://richardcharnin.wordpress.com/2011  /11/21/unadjusted-state-exit-polls-indi cate-that-al-gore-won-a-mini-landslide-i n-2000/

Al Gore won the unadjusted state exit polls by 50.8% to 44.4%, a 6 MILLION VOTE MARGIN compared to the 540,000 recorded. There were nearly 6 MILLION UNCOUNTED Gore votes.

The True Vote Model, based on 1996 and 2000 votes cast, was a close match to Gore’s exit poll share. He had a 50.0% True Vote share assuming he had 75% of 8 million returning 1996 voters, whose ballots for Clinton were uncounted, and 75% of 6 million uncounted votes in 2000.

Gore won the unadjusted exit poll in the following 13 states:

But all flipped to Bush. Gore would have won the election if he held just ONE of them. The election was stolen. Gore won his home state of TN as well as FL. He even won the exit poll in TX, Bush’s home state, by 4%. But I bet you never knew that.

The exit poll/recorded vote margin discrepancy exceeded 10% in 10 states:

But that theft was just a prologue of what was to come in 2004 and 2008.

In 2004, Kerry won the True Vote in a landslide – by nearly 10 million votes. The election was stolen again. The margin discrepancy exceeded 10% in 15 states: VT DE AK CT SC VA NJ HI NH MS PA UT MN NM OH

And in 2008, Obama’s landslide was even larger. He did much, much better than his recorded 9.5 million vote margin. The 10% margin discrepancy was exceeded in an astounding 28 states.

Sorry to burst your Fox News bubble, but those are the facts.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive