Friday, January 28, 2005

Bush Plays the Social Security Race Card

A must-read New York Times op-ed today, "Little Black Lies" by PAUL KRUGMAN . Invest a few minutes to read its entirety here. The first few paragraphs sum it up well....

"Social Security privatization really is like tax cuts, or the Iraq war: the administration keeps on coming up with new rationales, but the plan remains the same. President Bush's claim that we must privatize Social Security to avert an imminent crisis has evidently fallen flat. So now he's playing the race card.

This week, in a closed meeting with African-Americans, Mr. Bush asserted that Social Security was a bad deal for their race, repeating his earlier claim that African-American males die sooner than other males do, which means the system is inherently unfair to a certain group of people.'

In other words, blacks don't live long enough to collect their fair share of benefits. This isn't a new argument; privatizers have been making it for years. But the claim that blacks get a bad deal from Social Security is false. And Mr. Bush's use of that false argument is doubly shameful, because he's exploiting the tragedy of high black mortality for political gain instead of treating it as a problem we should solve.

Let's start with the facts. Mr. Bush's argument goes back at least seven years, to a report issued by the Heritage Foundation - a report so badly misleading that the deputy chief actuary (now the chief actuary) of the Social Security Administration wrote a memo pointing out 'major errors in the methodology.' That's actuary-speak for "damned lies."

In fact, the actuary said, 'careful research reflecting actual work histories for workers by race indicate that the nonwhite population actually enjoys the same or better expected rates of return from Social Security' as whites. "

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