December 19 2004, 9:04 AM
After winning an election focused almost exclusively on national security, George W. Bush has apparently decided he has a mandate to abolish Social Security and replace it with a system of forced savings accounts. The Denver Post, which endorsed Bush, ran a story today, the title of which at least directly supports the Bush agenda: "Seniors Outlive Promise Made By Social Security." While the story contains some comments supportive of the abolition plan, the facts in the story don't support the headline. Current seniors, in fact, will not "outlive" the promise of Social Security -- benefits are guaranteed to them. Reading the article carefully, it becomes clear that the only people who have to worry about "outliving" their benefits are the ones whose benefits would be subject to the Bush plan, which would feature (these are the Post's words) "401-k style investments that could be drawn down to nothing." Any attempt at pro-abolition message discipline at the Post breaks down completely in this article by Washington Bureau chief John Aloysius Farrell. Farrell's got actual facts and figures on the Social Security "crisis":
1. Social Security trust funds are awash with money these days and will be so until 2052. 2. Even the youngest baby boomers will get their full Social Security checks, and there's enough money in the pipeline to cover 80 percent of retirees' benefits after 2052.Farrell notes that merely raising the cap on salary subject to the Social Security tax from its current $87,000 could guarantee Social Security solvency well into the twenty-second century. With reporting like this found even in a pro-Bush newspaper, it would not be surprising if Social Security privatization fares no better than Bill Clinton's effort to reform the country's health care system in the '90s.