Monday, September 22, 2008

Washington Post: Obama Using Scare Tactics With Social Security

Ruth Marcus over at the Washington Post has an editorial about Obama and the level of campaigning to which he has sunk. When the Washington Post says something negative about Obama--their headlines typically read as Democratic Party talking points--I sit up and take notice.

Marcus begins by saying that her initial observations were on how McCain was misrepresenting Obama in his ad campaign:
Last week, I flayed John McCain for dishonesty -- flagrant and repeated dishonesty -- about Barack Obama's proposals. Obama was by no means blameless, I argued, but his lapses were nowhere near as egregious as his opponent's. I stand by everything I wrote.
Recent changes in tactics by Obama has caused her to take a second look:
But a series of new Obama attacks requires a rebalancing of the scales: Obama has descended to similarly scurrilous tactics on the stump and on the air.
She notes some less serious examples and then focuses on Obama's recent talking points about McCain and social security:
Obama has been furthest out of line, however, on Social Security, stooping to the kind of scare tactics he once derided.

"If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would have had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week," Obama said Saturday as he campaigned in that retiree-heavy state. "Millions of families would've been scrambling to figure out how to give their mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers, the secure retirement that every American deserves."

This is simply false -- even leaving aside the incendiary language about "privatizing" Social Security. As the invaluable noted, the private account plan suggested by President Bush and backed by McCain would not have applied to anyone born before 1950. It would not have changed benefits by a single penny for current retirees like the nice Florida folks that Obama was trying to rile up. The sensible notion was that workers at or near retirement age should be able to rely on promised benefits and should not be subject to the vicissitudes of short-term market fluctuations.
Off the many things candidates exaggerate in the course of a campaign, using scare tactics on social security ranks at the top of my list of annoying and unforgivable actions. The math and the details never add up. It always amounts to yelling at impressionable elderly people, "The other guy is going to take all your hard earned money!" It is a scare tactic, plain and simple. And it usually works.

For years, people have been claiming that bank loan system needed an overall. For years, politicians refused to act. This past week we say the collapse of that system and are now dealing with the aftermath.

For years, people have argued that social security needs an overall. It is not maintainable as it is now indefinitely. For years politicians have refused to act. The ones that are brave enough to suggest something are beaten down by opportunistic scare tactics like the ones Obama is now using. It is only a matter of time before we are dealing with the aftermath of a collapse of social security.

When do people--on both sides of the political aisle--realize that inaction is endangering the country? When does the media stop covering for politicians and ask hard questions about social security? I await that time with a sense of urgency but unfortunately with little sense of hope.

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