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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Even MSNBC says Bush is lying about Social Security

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/15/2005 10:57:00 AM


Steve Soto over at The Left Coaster points out that even MSNBC, usually Bush lapdogs, are saying Bush's warnings about a Social Security Crisis are nothing more than hype and political spin and often just out right lies.
Nancy Altman, who was an aide to Greenspan on the Social Security commission, remembers �exactly the same kind of hype� as we are seeing today. �It was exactly the same � the sky is falling,� said Altman.

The difference is that the problems facing the system in the 1980s were truly urgent. "It really was a crisis," said Mary Falvey, a member of the Greenspan commission. She remembers being told that Congress had to act by April 1983 to keep the Social Security checks from grinding to a halt two months later.

This time around, Social Security is years away from anything that honestly could be described as a financial crisis. But that has not stopped President Bush from trying to whip up enthusiasm for his proposed personal retirement accounts by warning of an imminent disaster.
And how about a flat out lie?
�In the year 2018, for the first time ever, Social Security will pay out more in benefits than the government collects in payroll taxes,� Bush said.

That is just plain wrong. In 14 of the past 47 years, including 1975 to 1983, Social Security paid out more in benefits than the government collected in payroll, with the gap reaching $10 billion in 1983. So the projected �crossover� point in 2018 is a relatively meaningless milestone, say opponents of Bush�s privatization plans, even as they acknowledge the system faces long-term problems.

Bush�s statements �appear designed to further a widespread perception, especially among younger people, that Social Security will entirely collapse and that there will be nothing for them when they retire,� said Bob Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Nothing really new here, the Bush administration has a history of distancing itself from the truth. This time though it's not sticking. The Hill reports that Centrists steer clear of Social Security plans.
"There is a sense that no one really wants to stick their head out at this point in time for fear they�re going to have their head cut off," one Senate Republican aide said.
"There are some senators in both parties that want nothing to do with this, wish it would go away,� said Graham, who organized a bipartisan meeting with senators last week to talk about his reform plan, which includes among its options a potential increase in payroll taxes. �There�s more people like me than I thought."
The lawmakers of both parties are going to be looking out for their own hides and would prefer it if the issue would just go away.
Cross posted at Middle Earth Journal