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Daily Howler: George Bush lied in the face of the young. And the Washington Post typed it up
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WHO ON FLAT EARTH WAS THE EDITOR! George Bush lied in the face of the young. And the Washington Post typed it up: // link // print // previous // next //

LIAR’S FIGURES: Yes, we’ve reached the point where he’s flat-out lying. Yesterday, George Bush conducted a privatization pep rally among the marks of Fairfax, Virginia. People were there who trusted their president. And their president lied in their faces:
BUSH (4/29/05): In 2027, the obligations of the federal government to retirees will be $200 billion greater than the payroll tax receipts. Starting in 2017, the system goes into the red, and it gets worse every year—2027, $200 billion; about 2030-something, it's $300 billion; and eventually, 2041, it's broke...

And if you're a younger worker and you start paying into the payroll system today and 2041 is about the time you start retiring, I'm telling you, the system's going to be bankrupt unless we do something about it.

In other words, you've been working all your life. You're putting money in, and by the time it comes for you to get ready to retire, there's nothing there.

Astonishing. As Bush knows, there most certainly will not be “nothing there” when workers retire in 2041. Indeed, according to the CBO estimate from which Bush is working, the SS system will be able to pay 74 percent of current promised benefits in that year. (Adjusted for inflation, that 74 percent pay-out will be larger than the benefit paid out today.) Yes, the system’s reserves will be exhausted by that year, but payroll taxes will still be rolling in. “By the time it comes for you to get ready to retire, there's nothing there?” Bush’s inexcusable “bankruptcy” language has always been baldly misleading. But yesterday, Bush moved well beyond a line. He flatly lied in the face of the people who came out to see their president speak.

But you won’t learn that in the Washington Post—not with the unfortunately named Peter Whoriskey in charge. In this morning’s paper, Whoriskey reports on Bush’s event—and he spends the bulk of his piece reinforcing Bush’s endless attempt at deception. In paragraph one, the hapless fellow refers to five of the terminally misled—five marks whom Bush was using:

WHORISKEY (pgh 1): President Bush brought his campaign to restructure Social Security to a Fairfax County community gym yesterday, taking the stage to hold conversations with five young local workers who fear that the system will have gone bust by the time they retire.
But why do those five young workers think SS “will have gone bust by the time they retire?” In large part, they think that because their president just keeps telling them that—because their president insisting on misleading them! But Whoriskey refuses to tell Post readers about the actual shape of Social Security’s future. Instead, he keeps pimping the image of future bankruptcy—of a system which has “nothing there:”
WHORISKEY (continuing directly): Bush has said that the Social Security system must be fixed because it is headed for bankruptcy by 2041, and he used the viewpoints of the young panelists to illustrate his point. Each of the workers—including a financial planner, an analyst at Verizon and a Web developer—revealed doubts about the 70-year-old program's future, and Bush commended them for preparing for retirement by investing in other ways.

"We've got citizens sitting up here saying, 'I don't think the system is going to be there for me,' " Bush told the crowd of about 500 invitees at the James Lee Community Center near Falls Church. "It's an interesting dynamic that people in Washington must pay attention to. In other words, they're saying, 'We've got a problem.' "

Bush is sitting with five young people who don’t understand the shape of Social Security’s future. They think the system “won’t be there for them”—and Bush refuses to disabuse them of this notion, refuses to describe the CBO estimate from which he figures derive. But Whoriskey refuses to inform people, too. He just keeps pimping the bogus idea that there will be “nothing there:”
WHORISKEY (pgh 6): Bush quizzed the young workers on stage about their retirement investments, seeking to highlight the ease and virtue of workers managing their own money as they would under his proposal for private Social Security accounts.

(7) Yuctan Hodge, a Web developer and entrepreneur, told Bush how he had opened a Roth IRA to provide for him in later years. Hodge said he knows "Social Security won't be around."

(8) "Don't you like the idea of people paying attention to their assets and watching them grow?" Bush asked the crowd after hearing Hodge's story. "I think it's an incredibly fantastic opportunity to spread that opportunity throughout our entire society."

In short, Young Hodge is misinformed about the future—but Bush refuses to straighten him out. And Whoriskey refuses to play this role too—flatly refuses to tell his readers know that Young Hodge is hugely misinformed. In passing, Whoriskey notes that “critics say” that Bush’s “analysis” is misleading. But even then, he keeps repeating the misinformed views of these young, misinformed, misled voters:
WHORISKEY (continuing directly): Whatever the financial projections for the Social Security system—critics say Bush's analysis is misleading— the panelists who were chosen to converse with Bush on stage, as well as several audience members, said they assume that the Social Security system they are paying for now will not be around forever.

"I don't believe I will have Social Security," said Kirsten Edmondson Wolfe, 36, a marketing executive for a high-tech firm, who was in the audience. "My concern is that Congress will raise my payroll taxes."

Wolfe is grossly misinformed, like Hodge. But as Whoriskey memorably says: “Whatever!” He does tell readers that “critics say” that Bush’s analysis is misleading. But he never tells readers what the CBO says! He never describes the official projection which Bush is so baldly misstating.

Have you ever seen a news report so awful? Whoriskey closes in high fashion, quoting Bush as he merrily rattles the stupid old UFO nonsense:

WHORISKEY (continuing directly): "I have noticed, since this is my first full-time job out of college, how much money is taken out of my paycheck each pay period for Social Security—that I may not see when it comes to my retirement," Kristin Seitz, 23, executive coordinator for the Northern Virginia Technology Council, told the president.

"It's the biggest tax a lot of people pay," Bush responded. "And younger Americans are saying, 'I'm not so sure I'm going to see it.'...Some youngster told me about the survey that said many young people are—think it's more likely they're going to see a UFO than get a Social Security check."

That’s right. And not only that—some people think the earth is flat, but presidents normally don’t go around encouraging them to think such nonsense. Bush dissembled, deceived and lied as he misled the rubes in Virginia. But whatever! Whoriskey couldn’t bring himself to tell Post readers what the CBO estimate actually says. “Critics say” Bush was misleading voters. But whatever! Whoriskey just kept quoting the Flat Earth crowd, and never bothered to mention the fact that Magellan sailed the whole blue sea round.

Where on earth do they find the Whoriskeys? This must be one of the worst “news reports” we have seen in our incomparable career. And remember: Whoever Peter Whoriskey is, his copy had to go through an editor. It’s hard to believe, but yes, it’s true. At the Post, there exists an editor so stupid, so daft, that this garbage was waved into print.

WHO IS PETER WHORISKEY: Peter Whoriskey is no rube kid. He was writing for the Miami Herald as early as February 1991. He has been at the Post since January 2001. And if he’s sincere, he must be the dumbest sumbuck whose copy ever made it to print. Which leads us to the larger question: Who on Flat Earth was the editor? Who on Flat Earth at the Washington Post waved this wide load into print?