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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Your view: No crisis

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Can you guess what the President is planning when he gins up a phony crisis, when he uses distorted or misleading numbers, when he claims we must act now before it's too late, or when he embraces the advice he wants to hear and ignores the rest?

Sounds like the run up for war with Iraq, doesn't it? Well, Iraq is an old crisis now and Social Security has passed into the President's cross hairs. Apparently a strategy that helped create a disaster in Iraq is the public relations model for the President's moon pie plan for Social Security.

But it doesn't stop there. The President claims invading Iraq is the front line in the war on terror, but prior to our invasion, Iraq and international terrorists were indifferent to each other. By the same token, he claims that the future insolvency of Social Security demands a fix that includes taking money out of the system. In the face of real threats as well as the ones he pulls out of the air, the President's decisions and his proposals have nothing to do with the situations they are supposedly addressing. Enough already. At long last, does he have no shame?

In the early 1980s Social Security taxes were raised to produce a surplus that was to be tapped when the baby boomers began retiring in great numbers. Billions of surplus dollars poured into the Social Security Trust Fund. While the usual suspects like to wax rhapsodic over the cuts in income taxes during Reagan's terms, they certainly don't want to discuss how the rise in the payroll taxes of the middle and lower classes actually subsidized the tax cuts of the wealthy and the super wealthy. The shortfall in revenue from Reagan's income tax cuts was replaced by taking cold cash out of the Social Security Trust Fund and replacing the cash with Treasury bonds and bills. Nothing inherently wrong with that. The U.S. sells Treasury bonds and bills everyday and that is exactly the way the U.S. is financing its current deficit spending. The Treasury bonds and bills are recognized all over the world as a safe investment backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

But somehow, through Republican spin passed on without question by the news media, the treasury bonds in the Social Security Trust Fund are described as some sort of lesser bond, little more than scraps of paper with IOU scribbled on them. Ask almost anyone about Social Security and four out of five respondents will repeat the current mantra of it not being there for them when they retire. As they answer they shrug their shoulders and seem perfectly willing to swallow the lies from the Republican Party, the President of the United States and the news media that passes on the lies without question. Swallow the lies and accept without complaint the idea that the taxes they have paid throughout their working lives are simply gone.

On the CBS Evening News of Dec. 8, John Roberts did a story on Social Security. He brought us the personal story of Tad DeHaven, passed off as the average man on the street.

DeHaven was a 20-something professional planning on retiring in 2042, which, according to Roberts, was when Social Security goes broke. DeHaven claimed that Social Security would not be there for him and he advocated a partial privatization program like the President was endorsing. One thing John Roberts seems unable to appreciate is that Social Security cannot go broke as long as payroll taxes are collected, and one thing he concealed from his viewers was that Tad DeHaven was an employee of an organization that lobbies for privatization of Social Security. Namely, the National Taxpayers Union. DeHaven ended up there after stints at the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute, each of which endorse privatization. Average man on the street? In no way. This is the level of reporting that the American public is getting on the issue. We are being lied to and the media is enabling the liars to get their message out.

The only crisis that Social Security faces is from the people who want to dismantle it in the guise of saving it. Don't believe the lies.

Mike Patterson,