AARP! AARP! Bill Clinton suggests he may bump up the minimum retirement age for Social Security recipients. And he hints that those who take out more Social Security money than they've paid in, which most people start doing four years after they retire, may have some of those benefits taxed. Could partial privatization follow?
Road Flip. The private plan to extend Virginia's Dulles Toll Road isn't dead after all. (See Balance Sheet, Jan.) Middleburg horse breeder Michael Crane pledges $25 million for the road; financial institutions led by Barclay's Bank put up nearly $250 million more. And state subsidies may out. Expect groundbreaking ceremonies by April.
Flight Plan? Former Cuban Air Force Maj. Orestes Lorenzo Perez uses a 1961 Cessna to rescue his family from Castro's rule. Perez flies under radar surveillance and lands on a Cuban coastal highway, where his wife and two sons board a flight to Florida and freedom. Forget Stealth technology; buy more Cessnas.
Gorky/Menlo Park. How to keep unemployed Russian scientists from working for nuclear terrorists: Employ them. American philanthropist George Soros puts up $100 million of his own money to fund basic research in Russia. Soros will create an independent foundation to give out the money, letting grant applicants bypass the bureaucrat-infested research establishment.
'93 Fears. As an all-encompassing threat, communism appears dead. But bigotry that leads to violence may replace the red menace. Consider Bosnia, Iraq, South Africa, Germany, even Los Angeles. Can't we all get along?
Tennessee Dud. Al Gore claims environmental cleanup is the job-creating industry of the future. So why is he trying to block the opening of a state-of-the-art waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio? Incinerators may be high-tech, but they aren't P.C. The veep opposes them, reports The New York Times, because they discourage recycling and "source reduction."
Hard Drive. George Bush's Federal Trade Commission considers antitrust charges against software giant Microsoft. Because most PCs depend upon Microsoft operating systems and applications software, say the feds, Bill Gates must be a robber baron. "In Japan," notes Washington Post trend spotter T. R. Reid, "a company as…successsful as Microsoft would get awards from the government; in the U.S.A., you get investigated."
Election Returns. The down side of this year's congressional turnover: The biggest spenders came back. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation reviews spending votes of the 102nd Congress. Returning Senate Republicans are 5.6 times as likely to vote for higher spending as their departing colleagues; returning Democrats are twice as likely as outgoing Dems to raise spending. Kiss deficit reduction goodbye.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Balance Sheet".