Monday, October 25, 2004

Party Platform Pretzel II

In his latest "Point," Mark Hyman continues his “examination” of the two party platforms, with the focus this time on Social Security. Not surprisingly, he ignores and spins facts to editorialize while still keeping the façade of an even-handed analyst.

In talking about the Democratic platform, Hyman says nothing about plans to ensure the health of social security. He only mentions the “promises” the Democrats make to seniors to not raise the retirement age or to offset Social Security with other retirement plans. Toward the end of the piece, Hyman says that if something isn’t done about Social Security, “younger workers will have nothing but empty promises.” Hyman’s implication is obvious: Democrats only offer empty promises on social security, rather than a plan.

Hyman’s rhetoric takes a decidedly different tone when talking about Republican plans to partially privatize Social Security. Positive verbs abound:

Republicans support workers voluntarily choosing between the current Social Security system and supplementing Social Security with a personal retirement account in which they can make their own investment decisions with a portion of their money.

Meanwhile, Republicans oppose (not promise) decreasing benefits or raising taxes.

The problem is that it’s the Republican plan that offers false promises. Hyman joins with the Bush administration in using the language of empowerment when talking about workers having some Social Security money directed into private savings accounts. But Hyman doesn’t point out that Social Security deductions don’t go to “accounts” where they’re saved for workers until they retire. They go to pay benefits to seniors today. Even diverting a small percentage of Social Security contributions to private funds (and no feasible plan suggests more than 3-5% could be used in this way) would necessitate immediate cuts in benefits for today’s seniors, or the raising of taxes. But Hyman is silent on this subject.

Hyman does his best to spin the issue through word choice while seeming to offer his viewers an objective analysis, but even a cursory glance at the facts shows that, as usual, he’s just full of hot air.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

For a brief look at how Republicans spin the Social Security issue, take a look at
this link from Spinsanity.


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