1.16.2005

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Editorial: Social Security/Blacks get more, not less, from it
StarTribune.com (01.17)

Of all the lies –– let's call them by their right name –– that the Bush administration is spreading about Social Security, none is as vile as the canard Bush repeated last Tuesday, when he said, "African–American males die sooner than other males do, which means the [Social Security] system is inherently unfair to a certain group of people. And that needs to be fixed." That is an entirely phony assertion; it has been debunked by the Social Security Administration, by the Government Accountability Office and by other experts. Bush and those around him know that. For them to repeat what they know to be a blatant lie is despicable fear-mongering.

Bush didn't make up this phony line on his own; it comes from the Heritage Foundation, which a number of years ago did a study purporting to show that because African–Americans have a shorter life expectancy than whites, they get less in return for the taxes they pay into the Social Security system.
Heritage Foundation. Know the name. They're all over the talking head shows. We've known more than a few folks who have worked at Heritage over the years and they are super–conservative and have a very clear agenda, so don't let anyone tell you differently.

Nothing they say can be trusted to be even remotely objective.
The Social Security actuaries found that Heritage had exaggerated substantially the amount blacks pay in Social Security taxes and low-balled the benefits they receive. "In fact," the actuaries said, "results from more careful research reflecting actual work histories for workers by race indicate that the non–white population actually enjoys the same or better expected rates of return from Social Security than for the white population."

The GAO reached the same conclusion. It said that, "In the aggregate, blacks and Hispanics have higher disability rates and lower lifetime earnings, and thus receive greater benefits relative to taxes [paid] than whites."

While Bush didn't mention Hispanics, he probably will, as Heritage did, with similarly misleading results. Both the GAO and Social Security actuaries found Hispanics, too, in the aggregate, benefit more than whites from the Social Security system. Hispanics actually live longer than whites, and thus the mechanism that links their future benefits to inflation (which the Bush administration wants to undo) is particularly important. Currently, as Hispanics grow older, Social Security makes up a more and more important element of their income.
Bush Co. will stop at nothing to get what they want, whether it is war or killing off Social Security, and the full–court press is just starting.

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