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Daily Howler: Three separate times, Bush told Tampa voters that SS ''won't be there'' for them
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IT’S SO EASY (PART 2)! Three separate times, Bush told Tampa voters that SS “won’t be there” for them: // link // print // previous // next //

IT’S SO EASY (PART 2): For George Bush, disinforming the public is easy with help-mates like the Post’s Steven Luxenberg! As Luxenberg surely knows, there’s no way that Social Security “won’t be there” by the time today’s twenty-somethings retire. But pseudo-con spin-shops have spent several decades trying to make younger voters think different. And on Sunday, Luxenberg was willing to do what he could, publishing Laura Thomas’ know-nothing piece in the Post’s Outlook section (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/7/05). Uh-oh! Thomas recited all the key claims that pseudo-cons spinners have pumped out for decades. We believe in Santa Claus more than SS! And: The program will just be for people on welfare! And: The federal government has mismanaged the money! There was no sign that Thomas, a twenty-something music writer, had the first clue about her subject. But so what? People like Bush have labored for years to disinform young people like Thomas. And Luxenberg was eager to help, publishing a know-nothing piece that will help disinform many others.

And make no mistake: The gloomy message of Thomas’ piece is central to Bush’s current efforts. Last Friday, for example, Bush held a town hall meeting in Tampa, speaking to citizens about Social Security. And because disinformation is dear to his heart, Bush was soon treating those citizens like a big gang of rubes. Just as Thomas would do in the Post, he soon found a way to say this:

BUSH (2/4/05): You know, it's interesting—well, anyway, I find it interesting that younger people are now paying attention to the issue. That's important. See, when the word gets out to the Congress, they'll say, There's a lot of young folks who are saying, “I don't think I'm ever going to see a dime unless Congress acts.” That'll get people acting, because there's a lot of young folks.
Readers, there he went again! In this passage, Bush repeats a familiar statement, one he knows is completely delusional: Young people don’t think they’ll ever see a dime from Social Security! Let’s state the obvious: Bush repeated this classic groaner as a way of deceiving an uninformed audience. And George Bush liked the message so much that he went on to pimp it three separate times. Later, he embellished the remarks of a young man who expressed this general notion:
QUESTION (2/4/05): Firstly, I'd like to say something that just resonated with me, in that my generation doesn't believe that it will be there in its current form. I strongly believe that. I don't believe the system will be there for me. I'm 28 years old.

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: Two quick questions—

BUSH: Well, just one thing on that. That's what's changed in the debate. That's what gives me confidence that people who are—have been elected can stand up and be rewarded for taking on the issue, not punished. Because there are thousands of people like him who say, “I don't think I'm ever going to see anything. And what are you going do about it?”

Note how Bush embellishes this young man’s initial remarks, mouthing another ridiculous statement: I don’t think I’m ever going to see anything from Social Security. Just as well as he knows his own name, Bush knows this statement is deeply uninformed. But so what? At a third point in the Tampa forum, he recited the message again. This time, he spoke with a young man named Jim Browne. And he showed he’s a real piece of work:
BROWNE (2/4/05): Yes, well, first off I'd like to say how much I appreciate you bringing up the subject of the future of Social Security. For many of my generation, we don't anticipate the system being there for us as it stands.

BUSH: Let me stop you there. Did you hear what he said? First of all, when I was 27 years old I don't remember having a discussion with anybody about whether or not Social Security would be there. Any of the other baby boomers here remember talking about Social Security and its viability when we were 27?

No, the thing—the dynamic has changed. There are 27-year- olders [sic] all over the country saying, “Is the system going to be there? And what are you going to do about it?

Instead of clarifying Browne’s misinformed comments, Bush recited the central claim: Social Security “won’t be there” for them! How important is this message to Bush? He recited it three times in Tampa alone. Two days later, Luxenberg helped, pimping it for Bush in the Post.

Social Security won’t be there for them! Hoping to disinform young voters, Republican vultures have peddled this message for decades, creating a world in which young voters are ready to try even reckless alternatives. And as Bush and his minions present this false message, your mainstream press corps stares into air. But then, the liberal web hasn’t done much better at combating this key, bogus message.

TOMORROW: When McCain kept making his ludicrous statements, Stephanopoulos praised his “straight talk!”

AS OTHER MEN BREATHE: Of course, Bush’s serial citation of this decades-old groaner was hardly his only transgression this day. Bush deceives rubes much as other men breathe—and your “press corps” keeps finding new ways not to notice. For example, at one point during the Tampa meeting, a citizen stood and asked a good question. She asked about the initial costs of setting up those private accounts. So Bush—what else?—baldly misled her:

BUSH (2/4/05): Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION: What will be the cost of the transition from the way Social Security is now to the way you’re proposing to do it?

BUSH: Yes, she's asking about the cost of the transition. Estimated at about $600 billion over a ten-year period of time to get the personal accounts started on the—the way we've suggested they grow. It's a good question.

“It’s a good question,” Bush told the young woman—and then he basically lied in her face, offering a baldly bogus reply to her seminal question. In fact, the transition to private accounts would cost trillions of dollars, over the course of the next several decades—perhaps $15 trillion in all, the Congressional Budget Office has said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/2/05). This Sunday, even Cheney acknowledged, on Fox News Sunday, that transition costs would run in the trillions. But so what? Bush has proposed a delayed and phased-in transition—a transition that has been designed to let him give this deceptive reply about the cost “over a ten-year period.” Result? When that young woman sat down in her chair, she believed the transition would cost $600 billion—a belief that was, of course, baldly mistaken. And she believed it because her president conned her. As usual, he had played her for a sucker, a square, a rube, a mark, a perfect fool.

But then, all through the Tampa session, Bush kept deceiving trusting people who had come to hear him speak. And all across the American media, overpaid pundits slurped fine wines and found new ways not to notice. Readers, it’s easy for Bush to disinform voters with a “press corps” like these on his tail. Tomorrow, we’ll watch the press as it gives Bush a pass on this well-scripted misconduct.

GREAT (PRAT)FALLS—SOME COMIC RELIEF: In Tampa, Bush kept pimping the bogus idea that young people “won’t see a dime” from SS. And yes, he virtually lied in the face of the woman who asked about transition costs. But how big a clown can this president be? Last Thursday, he held a town meeting in Great Falls, Montana. One voter, understandably moved by the spirit, asked him the following question:

QUESTION (2/3/05): Mr. President, do you foresee that if we fix this program we can move the retirement age back to 65? For some people it's 66, 67, 68 and on and on.
To this trusting fellow, Bush’s promises sounded so good that he even thought that retirement age might be returned to 65! It was a natural thing for a person to think, given the bullsh*t this president was selling. And Bush—just refusing to tell folks the truth—offered this comic reply:
BUSH (continuing directly): Well, there are a lot of discussions about whether we ought to move it back or move it forward. And that idea is on the table. And you know, again, this is one of those ideas where, in the past if you talked about it, somebody would club you over the head with it in a political race.

And I think we ought to debate whether or not the age ought to be 65, 66, 67—these are for younger workers, now. Nothing changes for older workers.

Incredible, isn’t it? Now Bush was telling a room full of people that we might move retirement back to 65! Bush dissembles like other men breathe—but then, major “journalists” make it so easy! Tomorrow, we’ll watch Sunday hosts as they stare into, letting some big pols deceive you.