Wednesday, January 12, 2005

When Presidents Lie

Eric Alterman wrote a book with this title (which is not exclusively about Bush), but Kevin Drum asks today what the media should do when Bush blatantly lies, as he did yesterday:

Far from his dairy farm in central Utah, 27-year-old Josh Wright stepped onto a stage with President Bush on Tuesday and related the warning his father had given the other day in the barn.

"He looked me in the eye and he said, 'Don't depend on Social Security. You're independent....Don't plan on having Social Security there when you get older.' "

The president looked at Wright approvingly. "At your age," he said, Social Security "will be bust by the time it comes for you to retire."

This is a lie, a blatant lie. So what should the media do?

Matt Yglesias suggests this:

But according to the Social Security Administration, if no changes are made workers who retire in 2041, when Wright will turn 65, the program will have enough money to pay full benefits. For workers retiring in 2043 and beyond, there will have to be benefit cuts unless taxes are raised, but guaranteed benefits would still be higher in real terms than those paid today and higher than the ones offered by Bush's proposal. According to the Congressional Budget Office, full benefits can be paid until 2052. Because of its dedicated revenue stream, Social Security can never "go bust" no matter what happens, though benefits may need to become less generous.
Unfortunately, the media won't do anything about this. Josh Marshall has more.


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