Saturday, March 05, 2005
After saying the term "lying" might not even do it justice, Joshua Marshall claims that Bush was being untruthful in describing his social security plan yesterday because, according to Marshall, Bush's private account plan replaces social security and isn't an add-on to it.

But here is what Bush said:
This is a retirement account we're talking about. But it's your money, and the interest off that money goes to supplement the Social Security check that you're going to get from the federal government. See, personal accounts is an add-on to that which the government is going to pay you. It doesn't replace the Social Security system. It is a part of making -- getting a better rate of return, though, so -- to come closer to the promises made. That's important to know.
What part of that is untrue? Simply the use of the term "add-on"? No, it can't be that, because it is true, a private account would add-on to what you would get from the social security system. You get your social security check, and in addition you would get your private account check. It is completely accurate. No, Marshal explains, it is not true because everyone (including, I am sure, all of those people in New Jersey to whom Bush was speaking) knows that add-on is a term of art. "Add-on" doesn't really mean "in addition to," no it means something else. And it means something else because it has been used by democrats and republics for at least the last decade as term of art in the social security debate....

Oh, so that is why the term "lying" might not even do this justice. It is because it was not a lie at all, but rather a completely true statement.

Or I guess it depends on what the meaning of "is" is.... or wait, I mean what the meaning of "add-on" is.... Is this the best people against Bush's plan can come up with? Pretty pathetic, actually pathetic doesn't do it justice.

There are good arguments against Bush's plan. Privitization is largely a red-herring. It won't really solve any of the problems (and there are major problems with social security). It may, or may not, help close the gap in the shortfall depending on what assumptions you use for the rate of return on the private accounts. It may have no effect. And it may have a negative effect.

Why not say that? Of course, first you have to admit that there is going to be a shortfall in social security, and admit that there are no actual dollars (or gold in Ft. Knox) that represents the "funds" in the "trust fund." That's right, there is no money in the trust fund - the trust fund is just treasury bonds. Of course, the U.S. has never defaulted on its bonds, so that money is safe.

And of course it is. Of course there will be money - I mean the government can always print more of it after all! But that is precisely the problem. When we have to start paying out from that "trust fund," it will put a huge amount of pressure on our economy. If our economy is already struggling it may very well put it into recession, or further into recession if it is already in recession, or even into depression. Anyone who doesn't accept that possibility either doesn't really understand the issue, or is "lying." Well actually lying doesn't do it justice.
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!



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