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June 02, 2005

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars? (Yet Another Bush Social Security Edition)

Daniel Froomkin watches the clown show that is the Bush administration on Social Security:

Exploiting a Misconception: President Bush's meticulously stage-managed presentations on Social Security have slowly shifted into a new phase, in which White House aides find misinformed young people to share the stage with the president and assert that Social Security won't be there at all when they retire. And rather than correcting them on their misconception -- government estimates, after all, say that after 2041 Social Security will still be able to pay at least three-quarters of currently promised benefits without any changes -- Bush congratulates them on their perspicacity....

Take a look at the transcript of Bush's event yesterday in Milwaukee and in particular his exchanges with the panelists winnowed by the White House from a pool of contestants selected by the local chamber of commerce. Bobby Kraft, 27, who is president of a local printing and mailing company, told Bush: 'Before I got into printing I did have a short stint as an investment advisor. And the first thing I learned getting into the industry and studying all the financial books is that don't count on Social Security to be there. We... teach our employees that they need to take advantage of the 401(k) we put in place for them because of the fact, the way the Social Security system is set up, we cannot count on that to be here.

Bush: 'Yes, let me stop you. Young guy sitting here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in front of the President -- don't count on Social Security to be there. A lot of people feeling that way here in America. What I'm telling you is, if we can get the United States Congress to listen to you, we can put a plan in place to make sure Social Security is there. (Applause.)... 'Bush: 'Interesting, isn't it? They took a survey amongst youngsters. Somebody explained to me, I didn't actually watch -- see the survey, but I heard what the person said. He said, more people are -- that are Christy's age think they're more likely to see a UFO than get a Social Security check. (Laughter.) Pretty funny when you think about the fact that a lot of young people are going to be putting a lot of money into a system that may not be around....'

Is it just a coincidence that so many of the young people sharing the stage with the president are laboring under this particular misconception? No. As Warren Vieth writes in a break-out Los Angeles Times story today, the White House is specifically looking for such people.... Writes Vieth: 'Although it is common for advocacy groups and political organizations to spotlight supportive views at public events, the WIPP memo suggests that the White House has provided outside organizations with explicit instructions on the kind of participants it has in mind.'

Posted by DeLong at June 2, 2005 12:09 PM