MORE than a few people have noted that President Clinton...

salmagundi

March 02, 1993

MORE than a few people have noted that President Clinton looks older after only six weeks in office.

His own explanation, offered during his televised Q&A session with children the other weekend, is that allergies cause the puffiness under his eyes. Regardless, connoisseurs of presidential visages are suggesting that he make plans to have his official White House portrait painted soon.

Most students of presidential portraits say it's best for a president to pose early in his term, before the burden of the office takes its toll on their features. But every rule has its exception. Apparently Jimmy Carter intended to do pose early, but never got around to it until after he left office. Now, the White House curator considers the Carter portrait one of the best in the collection.

It seems that when President Carter took office, he had been jogging and dieting and was simply too thin.

After he left office, he had gained the weight back and looked much better.

That may turn out to be true for President Bush as well, who has not yet picked the artist who will paint his portrait.

No one worries that President Clinton will look too thin in his portrait, at least not yet.

True, he's an avid jogger. But he tempers his exercise with his well-publicized penchant for fast food.

* * *

TIMELY words from Time magazine:

"Many retirees believe they are only getting back what they've paid in Social Security taxes over their working lives. The truth is that because of the rapid rise in benefits in recent decades, the average person retiring today at 65 gets back all the money he paid into Social Security, with interest, by age 71.

" 'After that,' says Paul Hewitt, a budget expert at the National Taxpayers Union, 'you're on welfare.' And the average retiree lives until 81.

"These heavily subsidized benefits are financed by regressive Social Security taxes -- payroll deductions apply only to the first $57,600 of income this year -- that have more than doubled over the past decade and that fall most heavily on younger and lower-paid workers who will not get out of the system what they are paying in.

"The subsidizing of retirement benefits can be justified for the elderly poor, but not so easily for seniors who can afford to fiance their own retirement.

"At present, couples who earn more than $32,000 in retirement incomes (and who typically own their homes and other assets worth several hundred thousand dollars) are taxed on 50 percent of their Social Security benefits. Clinton [has proposed] to tax those couples on 85 percent of their benefits, which would save $5.8 billion a year over the next five years, and would affect only the wealthiest of retirees."

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