For The Trees

Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

About the Authors:
Dave Johnson
John Emerson
Richard Reich
Thomas Leavitt


Recent Posts:
Moved to Seeingtheforest.com
This Blog Has Moved
Democracy Arsenal
Thought Crimes
Think Progress
Bill Bradley Describes VRWC in NY Times Piece Toda...
Blog Change Coming Friday
How the Liberal Media Myth is Created
Interest Rates
Finally Leaving Blogger


BEST OF STF:

Dave's:

Articles not at STF:

The ATLA Speech on building a progressive infrastructure
Lowering the Bar
The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law
Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors

On the Right and their communications infrastructure:

Why Republicans Win
Win or Lose
The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine
Some History of the Conservative Movement
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
An Amplifier Of Our Own
Don't Blame the Democrats
How They Do It 1 2 3 4
Getting Rolled

Other:

You're Gonna Get Drafted
Scalia and Self-Government
Who is Our Economy For?
Voting Machine Story Link Collection
What's Wrong with this Picture? (Voting Machines)
Like Meat in the Supermarket
Get Active
Thin Line 1 2 3
Fixing Social Security
Seeing the Forest I, II, III
"Incredibly Positive News"
The Breadth of It
The Republican Crony Club
Moon Bush
Ralph Nader is a Scab


John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
Bandar Bush
9/11 Commission Report Damages Bush -- if you read it
Florida Goon Squad Intimidated the Supreme Court
The Use and Abuse of George Orwell
Zizka's Archives (John's previous identity)
Zizka Sampler


News Sources:
AlterNet
BuzzFlash
Common Dreams
Cursor
Drudge Retort
Information Clearing House
Smirking Chimp
TruthOut
What REALLY Happened

Links to Other Weblogs:




12/18/2004
 



Stinks

This just stinks.

Obama lands $1.9 million book deal:
"No Senate regulations prevent Obama from signing a contract for a book before he is sworn into office Jan. 4.

Under the pending contract:

*Obama will be paid an $850,000 advance from Crown Publishers for a book due to be published in spring 2006. According to a news release, it will 'offer a window into the political and spiritual convictions that propelled' Obama's Senate win.

*Obama receives another $850,000 from Crown for another book, but its topic 'is under discussion,' said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Steve Ross, a senior vice president and publisher at Crown, said they had 'no idea' what that book would be about but made the payment to make 'a statement of our long-term confidence in him as an author.' The money is also intended to show 'that we want him to have a long-term home' at Crown." [emphasis added]
It just stinks. We fought the battle for campaign contribution limits. We fought this when Gingrich got a book deal. Politicians taking money stinks -- book deals, speaking fees, whatever -- there is just no way around it. ANY politician.

Update - This is not about free speech. He can communicate all he wants. He can write all the books he has time for as a Senator.

But he should not be accepting $1.9 million from ANYONE, under ANY circumstances.

Even if he didn't accept an "advance" and only took the money made by actually writing and then selling the books, that is what Speaker of the House Wright had to resign for.

IT'S THE MONEY NOT THE BOOK! How do we justify criticism of Tom Delay or any of the others if we say it is OK for Obama to accept $1.9 million?




12/17/2004
 



Didn't Expect Smear to Matter

Kerry Campaign Head Admits Miscalculations:
The campaign manager for Sen. John Kerry's failed presidential bid said Wednesday she regrets underestimating the impact of an attack advertisement that questioned Kerry's Vietnam War record.

Mary Beth Cahill ... said the Massachusetts senator's campaign initially thought there would be "no reach" to the ad from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

[. . .] Cahill said the Swift boat ads show the power of news coverage, particularly cable news stations, which she said amplified the ads by running them repeatedly.

She said it was frustrating that the first ad continued to eat up so much air time even after the central allegations were debunked.

"For me, this was a very big change. The fact that it was disproved and it was still shown every day as part of the (campaign) coverage," she said.
She - and the Kerry campaign -- didn't and still don't "get it." They STILL don't even have a clue what Bush and the Right are about. The "blogosphere" knew the minute that smear came out what was up, and the course it would run! We knew it would come. We knew who would spread it. We even knew what the "movement" ground troops would say to the talk-show hosts and in the forum comments, helping the momentum -- they would understand it was untrue but would also wink and nod and understand the "use" of it and pretend to believe it. We knew that the smear would have professionally-framed, carefully-worded, focus-group-tested tag-lines. We knew that it would come in phases. We knew that "new information' would overwhelm anyone trying to refute any single lie with facts and details. ... In fact, we bloggers had been talking about "the smear" that would come for TWO YEARS before this specific Swift Boat smear even came out.

If focus groups and polls and neuromarketing scans showed that the right percentage of the public would swing away from Kerry if they were told he was born in a lab from an experiemtn that made him secretly half woman and half insect, that is what they would have been told.

Why were the people even in the Kerry campaign if they didn't understand how the Right works now, who is running it, who is funding it, their goals and their strategies and methods?

THIS is what all the talk about "reform" of the Democratic Party is about. The people in charge now don't understand the nature of the fight they are in.


 



He Was "Informed" And That Was The Problem

At The Washington Monthly, Kevin writes,
SOCIAL SECURITY AND ME....Matt Yglesias makes an important point about Social Security framing today:
I'm not sure the older liberals who run the show quite understand how overwhelmingly important it is to keep the "there is no crisis" message front and center in the Social Security debate. Most of the young people I know -- including myself until very recently -- have been taken in by a decades-long effort on behalf of privatizers into believing that Social Security is in "crisis," and that if we do nothing the system will "go bankrupt" before we retire, meaning that the system will somehow collapse and we won't get any benefits.
This is true, and I used to be one of these people too. As a well-informed citizen, I knew that Social Security was unsustainable, that life expectancies were increasing, that fewer workers would be supporting more retirees in the future, and in general, that the program was facing a demographic timebomb that would cause it to go bankrupt within a couple of decades.

This was back in the mid-90s, and for some reason I took an interest in finding out more. So I wrote off for a copy of the trustees report, read up on tax policy and demographic projections, pored through various analyses, and — to my surprise — learned that the problem was either (a) fairly modest and quite solvable or (b) not a problem at all. [emphasis added]

[. . .] In other words, after actually studying the issue, I changed my opinion almost 180 degrees. Nothing is going bankrupt, benefits will continue to be paid forever, and future funding problems are both modest in size and not that hard to deal with.
Kevin has become a leader in fighting this Social Security lie.


 



Here's Your Homework

Here's you homework: in the left column, under the heading "Links to Other Weblogs:" you'll find the "blogroll." I suggest making a habit of clicking every day over to one or two of the blogs you haven't visited, just to see what's there. I do that and I (usually) find such great stuff! There are a LOT of great blogs out there!

Let me know if I have any dead links, or links to blogs that have moved. Please let me know if YOUR liberal/progressive/moderate blog isn't there, and I'll put it there.


 



Unimaginable

Just a quick comment on something I have been thinking about -- how fast the unimaginable becomes reality now. Think about this: the country is seriously about to phase out Social Security! Even five years ago this was just unimaginable.

What's left that is unimaginable? The idea of America invading countries who have done nothing to us? Been there, done that. How about tearing down the wall of Separation of Church and State? Environmental protection is largely gone and where it remains it is unenforced. Getting rid of public schools? The No Child Left Behind Act is a time-bomb that could destroy public education -- and if that doesn't work you know they'll go at it from another angle. The Medicare Reform Act is the same thing - a time-bomb ticking away under Medicare. And the tax cuts are a time-bomb about to destroy America's economy and reputation. They're even discussing selling off the National Parks.

Law itself is under attack. That's what is behind the push to confirm their Federalist Society judges. And to get that done they are working on getting rid of the right to filibuster in the Senate.

It's all just unimaginable. Or is it?


 



Republican Ponzi Scheme

Why Social Security by Stirling Newberry:
"Social Security, as it was, is doomed, simply because the current executive and the political coalition that he heads must have that money. There is nothing that will stop them, simply because they realize that Iraq is a failure at producing the flood of new oil and new oil exploration money - and therefore they have to create a crisis.

In reality there is no crisis. The crisis is not with social security, but with the need for Wall Street to pour money in to replace the money that is not coming in in the form of higher consumer spending. The consumer is almost tapped out, therefore, the only money left to be had is the money paid in for FICA taxes. To keep stock valuations up, that money must be poured into stocks, so that the very wealthy can cash out while tax rates are unsustainably low. In short, this is a Republican Ponzi scheme."
When you hear Republicans refer to Social ecuirty as a "Ponzi scheme" remember our rule: If Republicans are accusing it always means they're DOING.


 




http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/12/15/9734/4841


 



Supporting Troops by Helping Companies that Fire Them?

“Tort Reform” will handcuff lawyers fighting for National Guard Families,
"CBS News (video) (alternate) reported this week that thousands of National Guard troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to find that they have been fired in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The CBS report went on to say that increasing numbers of National Guard and Reserve troops who have returned from war are encountering new battles with their civilian employers at home.

...Tragically, the companies abusing our troops may get away with it because there are not enough lawyers to force them to obey the law. [. . .] Unfortunately, the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), set up within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs to provide returning Guards and Reservists with free legal help through the states, has not been adequately funded and must rely on volunteers.

[. . .] the skills Denson and his counterparts in the other states need are those of trial lawyers – the very skills the Administration seeks to handcuff with its push for so-called “tort reform”. Trial lawyers protect American families from irresponsible corporations. The settlements trial lawyers earn for helping citizens abused by corporations make it possible for them to volunteer their time and their resources to fight for the families of our troops. The lawsuits they file - misnamed “frivolous” by the Right Wing noise machine - are the powerful levers citizens use to force corporations to obey the law and behave responsibly. And now these same powerful levers are needed by the families of National Guard and Reservists to force many of those same companies to treat our returning troops as the law – and patriotic decency – demands.

[. . .] Trial lawyers will help protect families of America’s fighting men and women. The Administration’s so-called “tort reform” aims to protect the companies abusing our troops. If “tort reform” passes, no family will be safe, at home or at war."



 



Quick Comments on Right-Wing News

I've been surprised by how many of us don't "get it" about why the Bush people said that Homeland Security nominee Kerik had a "Nanny Problem." Some bloggers have "exposed" that there actually was no nanny, etc... It was obvious to me that this blamed the "Politically Correct" liberals for blocking another good, solid American from taking office, because they hate America. Take a look at right-wingnut Linda Chavez' column, "The nanny problem takes down another nominee" to see what I mean. This is written today, well after it became clear there actually is no "nanny" at all. And remember, for most people it doesn't go past the headline - Chavez is driving the point home with the headline that repeats the message, then moves on to her own cause. What the intended audience heard this week was that another good nominee was destroyed by the PC liberals.

Here's one for you. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, murderous dictator of Chile, was finally indicted this week. The Right's reaction? Take a look at "The left never sleeps" at Heritage Foundation's TownHall.
"In the body of the Times story, the word "communist" never appeared, only "Marxists." For all the untutored reader might know, Pinochet's victims might have been the country's librarians or butterfly collectors.

[. . .] How prominent have Pinochet's opponents been in the struggle against Islamofascism and the sadistic Saddam Hussein? The answer is not very."
OK, here's today's prize-winner: "Swift Boat Vets To Get Courage Award":
The American Conservative Union on Thursday announced it has tapped Sen. Zell Miller (search), D-Ga., to present the "Courage Under Fire" award to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at the Conservative Political Action Conference's Feb. 16 banquet.
Yes, the award will be presented by Zell Miller.
"The swift boat veterans performed an invaluable service to America," Miller said in a statement.
And, the kicker,
"We achieved our goal," Hoffmann said. "That was our primary concern, and we are pleased someone recognized the effort -- or at least the impact -- we had on the election."
That last story, by the way, from Fox News.


 



An e-mail I received:

Hello, you've reached the Mental Health Hotline.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
If you are codependent please ask someone to press 2 for you.
If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.
If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are dyslexic, press 9696969696969.
If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the star key until a representative comes on the line.
If you have amnesia press 8 and state your name, address, phone number,date of birth, social security number and your mother's maiden name.
If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, slowly and carefully press 000.
If you have bipolar disorder, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep. Or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you have low self esteem. Please hang up. All our operators are too busy to talk to you.



 



Eat This

Polymeals - the Recipe for a Longer Life?:
"If people over 50 years old consumed roughly the daily equivalent of the Polymeal, the researchers calculated, they could slash the odds of suffering from heart disease, one of the world's biggest killers, by 76 percent. . . . He and his team searched scientific literature to find foods that have a proven protective effect against cardiovascular disease and then used a mathematical model to determine how much the combined effects of the individual ingredients would reduce the risk of the illness. The results are reported in the British Medical Journal

The Polymeal consists of wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruit and vegetables, garlic and almonds. The ingredients should be taken daily, apart from fish which could be eaten about four times a week, as part of a balanced diet."
Because the future's uncertain.

And the end is always near.




12/16/2004
 



Bush is Juan Peron

I've been negotiating with the Godwin's Law enforcers, and have agreed to quit calling Bush Hitler. Bush is not Hitler.

There, I said it!

Bush is Juan Peron. He's a bullying, demagogic loudmouth with a fanatical following, and he's bankrupting the government and destroying the dollar with unprecedented vote-buying schemes.

Watch for the musical, "Laura!", with its hit single "Don't Cry For Me, Kennebunkport". Madonna has been signed up to re-invent herself one more time in the title role. The twins will be played by Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

UPDATE:
"How annoying that we have to fight elections for our cause

The inconvenience, having to get a majority
If normal methods of persuasion fail to win us applause
There are other ways of establishing authority
We have ways of making you vote for us
Or at least of making you abstain"

"Evita", Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber

Thanks to Bruce in South Florida. And according to Ayn Clouter,
the musical, called "Stepford" has already been performed in Branson.




 



Second thoughts way too late

Recently we've seen sharp criticisms of Rumsfeld from Sens. Lugar, McCain, and Lott, as well as William Kristol of the Weekly Standard. The Kerik disaster likewise seems to be drawing a bit of criticism from mainstream Republicans.

What is this BS? Two months ago all those people were working their little butts off trying to reelect the man responsible for appointing Rumsfeld and Kerik. Just recently, President Bush gave Rumsfeld as strong a vote of confidence as any President could ever give anyone -- keeping him on board while firing most of his critics. The real problem here is George W. Bush, not Rumsfeld or Kerik.

This looks worse than "buyer's remorse". It looks more as if, before the election, all these people were already aware that Bush has been a disaster and isn't going to improve any, but were all too cowardly (or too greedy) to risk opposing him. But now that he's been elected, and now that what they say will make little difference, they're going to try to recover their reputations with these little symbolic gestures.

As far as I am concerned, no one who contributed to Bush's 2004 election should ever be forgiven. I don't feel quite as strongly about those who failed to oppose the most recent Iraq War, but a bit more contrition on their part would be quite appropriate.

Update: Carla had about the same idea.



 



Libel?

Aside from being blatantly racist, isn't this actionable libel?

(Thanks to The Daou Report.)


 



Looking at Why

Why the Democrats Lost
"Why did the Republicans have the stronger hand? Three reasons. The first is demographic: In the course of three-and-ahalf decades, they developed close to a lock on the Southern, prairie and mountain states. The second is organizational: Over some thirty years, they developed a resplendently funded, intensely committed, politically sophisticated machine, not least in the suburbs that now overwhelm the cities. Starting from the premise that power is an unadulterated good, they have shrewdly combined the Christian Right and big-business components, antimodern and anti-government themes, and worked their way into local, state, and national power. When they win some power—state legislatures, governorships, judgeships (all the way up to the Supremes), Congressional committees, lobbyists—they know how to compound it into more power. Third, Republicans know how to play dirty—the Republican-financed Swift Boat deception of August, badly misplayed by Kerry, cost him one-third of all the time he had left to come from behind after the Democratic convention. Facing a president running as avenging angel against the September 11 massacres, Kerry had opted—reasonably—to run as a potential commander-in-chief, “reporting for duty.” The dirty tricks stopped him cold."
Excellent analysis.




12/15/2004
 



Not Evil Tomorrow?

A few thoughtful words from Dave Winer on Google, at his blog Scripting News:
"...the non-evil people running Google today won't be running it tomorrow."
Have a read.




12/14/2004
 



Tipping-Point Machine

The Alpha Bloggers: "The blogosphere is a tipping-point machine..."


 



Koufax Nominations

To nominate a blog - this blog or any other - for a Koufax award I suggest checking the Wampum blog in general rather than the thread I pointed to yesterday, because the nominating threads get long and they are putting up new posts with comment threads. So go nominate up some blog for you.


 



How They Killed Health Care

Everybody go read this:
Fighting Social Security Privatization :A Primer



 



Don't Know What to Think

Gary Webb, 49, Journalist Who Wrote Disputed Articles, Is Dead:
Gary Webb, a reporter who won national attention with a series of articles, later discredited, linking the Central Intelligence Agency to the spread of crack cocaine in Los Angeles, was found dead on Friday at his home in Carmichael, Calif., near Sacramento. He was 49.
Makes me think of this. And More here:
The Staff Director of the US House Select Committee on Intelligence was found dead of a gunshot wound in a fleabag motel in Vienna, Virginia on June 3, 2000. Several weeks earlier, the Committee had released their latest whitewash exonerating the CIA of drug trafficking during the 1980s. Is there a connection?
And this. More here.

And this.

(Thanks to garth.)




12/13/2004
 



The 2004 Koufax Awards – Nominations Are Open

The full story is here.
"The Koufax Awards are named for Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest left handed pitchers of all time. They are intended to honor the best of the left of blogtopia. At its core, the Koufax Awards are meant to be an opportunity to say nice things about your favorite bloggers and to provide a bit of recognition for the folks who provide us with information, insight, and entertainment usually for little or no renumeration. The awards are supposed to be fun for us and fun for you."
Go read the rest, and nominate you some blog.


 



The Weekend Meeting of Dems in Orlando

You may have read or heard about the big meeting of State Democratic Party officials in Orlando this weekend. Well, you don't have to read about it in the mainstream media, you can read about it from Jenny Greenleaf, a newly-elected DNC member, and American Street blogger, in The American Street : More on the ASDC Meeting.

Jenny is an example of what happens when you, yes YOU, show up at meetings and vote. You ARE the Democratic Party. And so is Jenny.


 



Complaining About the Democrats

Here's an idea: If you haven't attended a few meetings of your local Democratic Party, and voted, then don't complain about the Democratic Party or say we need a third party. You ARE the Democratic Party.

One the left side of the Democratic Party page is a "Get Local" pop-up menu. Choose your state. Get involved. Also Democracy for America is having regular Meetup meetings and they are organizing to take back the Party.




12/12/2004
 



Draft VERY Soon!

Retired Army colonel, 70, sent to Afghanistan:
Today, Caulfield, a colonel from Satellite Beach, Fla., is an example of how the continuing demands of keeping ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are forcing the military to go to extraordinary measures to keep its ranks filled. He's attending to patients - U.S. troops, Afghan soldiers and civilians - at the Army's 325th Field Hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan.
Won't be long now before they're drafting. Not long at all...

Thanks to Talking Points Memo


 



Purging the Doves

Beinart’s recent proposal that the Democrats denounce Michael Moore and his kind puts me in a hard place. Except for Matt Yglesias (who rather weakly defended him), most rejected Beinart’s proposal, but it still leaves a bad taste. It's as if I'm on probationary status now, and Beinart's proposed purge was just the tip of the iceberg.


Recently some of the bright young Ivy League things of the Yglesias sort confessed, with no apparent embarrassment, that they had initially supported Bush’s ill-conceived Iraq War primarily because they had been unwilling to be seen on the same side of the fence as the anti-war hippies they knew. Kevin Drum has expressed regret that Robert Scheer is writing for the LA Times (and has his doubts about Bob Somerby too), Brad DeLong went ballistic when Barbara Ehrenreich was given some column inches by the New York Times, and the usually-astute “praktike” made a dismissive remark about Greg Palast on a comment thread somewhere. This whole tendency was eloquently summed up by the commentator “Petey” on Yglesias’ comments: “Screw the Hippies”.

The goal is to cleanse the Democratic party of any smirch of anti-war sentiment, thus giving the American people only a choice between two different war policies. I find it hard to list the number of ways this is wrong.

First of all, I think that American military policy, at least as long as Bush is in office, is the big political issue of our time. War is a serious question and our answer to the question shouldn’t made on the basis of election demographics. If war is the wrong choice but the American people want war, we should get to working changing their minds. Contrary to Petey’s belief, one of the functions of politics is to define issues, rather than merely finding out what people already think and doing that. (Petey's cynicism is amazing: when I mentioned that even the “new European” Poles mostly oppose the Iraq War, Petey’s brilliant response was “How many electoral votes does Poland have?” I find that response to be hideously corrupt. You have to win elections to do anything, but the big questions shouldn’t be used as bargaining chips like artichoke subsidies and shrimp imports.)

But there’s more. For example, the Republicans will be able to brand the Democrats as the anti-war party no matter what. This is true especially as long as Bush is C-in-C, since no matter what the Democrats say, it will only be words, whereas Bush is able to order the military to kill people. There’s no way to trump that.

Furthermore, part of the Democrat’s image of weakness is their well-earned reputation for tagging along after the Republicans and caving in when the going gets tough. It sounds cynical, but I don’t think that the Democrats can establish themselves as tough guys in international affairs unless they first confront the Republicans politically -- to the voters, weakness is just weakness. (During the recent election, Kerry was careful not to come off as a dove, and it didn’t do him any good to speak of.)

Petey claims that there’s little danger in splitting the party with a hawkish stance, since doves "will have no place to go”. This is stupid. While I doubt that anyone will have much energy for another third party in 2008, if given a choice between two hawkish candidates, I think that a lot of voters will just stay home. And we can be sure that the Republicans will be very effective in reminding the peace wing of the Democrats that the Democratic candidate is almost as hawkish as the Republican candidate; in fact, given an opening, they will even gleefully try make it seem that the Democrat is dangerously extreme in his hawkishness.

Since I believe that the relatively-dovish position is the correct one, to me what the Democrats need to do is figure out how to do a good job of presenting this position. Bush’s planned 20-year imperialist war against an undefined enemy needs to be opposed. It’s not defensive, it’s not anti-terrorist, and Bush his using the political capital the war gives him to push destructive agendas entirely unrelated to foreign and military policy -- for example, an assault on Social Security). So how do we fight against that?

As always, it comes down to the media -- the big story in American politics right now. The media we’ve got is unwilling to report the Democratic point of view and tends to suppress facts that have a Democratic or anti-war slant. Republican talking points reverberate and echo, and Democratic talking points fall dead. In that context, trimming the message, running a stronger candidate, reforming the party, or running a stronger campaign will not be enough to bring victory. We need new media.

My conclusion is that someone has to write a half-billion-dollars-worth of checks. If that doesn’t happen, is there any hope?




 



Mush Journalism and the Strategic Social Security Lie

Today it's Social Security. In this San Jose Mercury News story, from the AP, Bush faces tough Social Security battle, Leigh Strope writes a "balanced" article about the battle Great Leader faces saving seniors from the coming "shortfall." From the story:
"The system is headed toward bankruptcy down the road," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "If we do not act soon, Social Security will not be there for our children and grandchildren."
Now we here in the blogosphere all know that this is a flat-out blatant lie. It is a strategic lie, repeated over and over until people think it's true. After enough repetition of this lie, everyone will say that "we all know" Social Security is going broke. Once enough people are tricked into thinking there is a problem that must be "solved," along come Republican candidates with "solutions" -- namely the current Bush plan to phase out Social Security.

Strope writes, "Creating investment accounts alone will not fix the future shortfall. Cuts in benefits are required, and investments are expected to make up the losses." WHAT "future shortfall?" The one we all know is coming. The problem with this article is that (as I'll show below) Strope has to know this is misleading at best, and furthers the Republican plan to phase out Social Security.

Just to be clear, every one of us needs to understand that there is no Social Security "shortfall" at all until 2042. And even that is calculated using an assumption of only 1.6% economic growth until then! Very little is required to fix this. (And if there IS only 1.6% growth, putting Social Seucrity into stocks would be a disaster!)

So, is Strope writing about the 2018 "shortfall" out of ignorance? In another, more informative Strope piece from Dec. 1, Questions, answers about Social Security, Strope writes:
Q: Why are changes needed to Social Security?

A: Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, with current benefits funded by the 12.4 percent in payroll taxes paid by workers and employers. The large baby boom generation will strain the system, which will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2018, according to the Social Security Board of Trustees. Without any changes, Social Security in 2042 will be able to cover only about 73 percent of benefits owed.
What's missing here is a clear explanation to the public that this is not in any way a problem with Social Security. The government has been borrowing from Social Security and using the money to give tax cuts to the rich. In 2018 the government stops getting extra money from Social Security and has to find a way to keep paying its bills. AND it has to start paying Social Security back. Social Security has enough "saved up" to last until at least 2042 with no changes at all. The 2018 problem is a problem with the government paying its bills to all creditors. Bush is trying to get out of paying this, and only this creditor back, because the money would have to come from the tax cuts that were given to the rich.

Further on in this piece, Strope does explain this, demonstrating understanding of what the Republicans are up to. So why does Strope keep giving them a pass?
Q: Will raising taxes, raising the retirement age or cutting benefits shore up funding without adding investment accounts?

A: Yes

[. . .]Q: What about money in the Social Security trust fund?

A: The trust fund does not really contain money. Social Security today collects more in taxes than it pays out in benefits. The extra money is used to buy Treasury bonds from the government. The government then spends the money as part of its general revenue.

Starting in 2018, when payroll taxes will not completely cover promised benefits, the bonds will be cashed in, with the government essentially repaying the money it already had spent. That will provide revenue to pay benefits to 2042.
Strope understands that the problem is that the government owes money to Social Security -- to retirees -- not that Social Security doesn't have the money! So why doesn't Strope ever make this clear in these articles? Strope's job is supposed to be to inform the public. This is the key point that the Republicans are trying to obscure, and Strope continues to play along.

Accurately covering a story like Social Security requires more than knowledge of Social Security and the facts and figures. To cover this story in its complete context requires that the reporter understand that the Republicans are using a strategic lie to promote a hidden agenda of phasing out Social Security. This is not a secret. The Republican think tanks - Heritage, Cato, AEI, etc. - have been writing openly about this for decades. Responsibility to the public and to democracy requires including this information in every single story written.




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I took out the Amazon "donate button" because they are a red company, helping fund the right.

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