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LYING TO THE MOTHERS! Bush has some gifts for America’s mothers—disinformation, disrespect, phony fear: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MAY 5, 2005

DRUM GETS IT RIGHT: Our analysts lustily cheered Kevin Drum as he named a famous name in yesterday’s post. (Although he makes a tortured claim about the semantics of “cut.” In a wide array of circumstances, this claim would be less than convincing.) And yes, they cheered Matt Yglesias too, as he named the name of Joe Klein. Liberals and Democrats have to name these burn-outs again and again—and again and again, and again after that. Tomorrow, we’ll continue our look at Michael Kinsley, and you may get a better idea of how burned-out this former giant really is. Liberals and Democrats have to say, loud and clear, that this is no longer acceptable.

These people have to be named by name. They have to be named again and again. Libs and Dems have to say, “Enough!” Our analysts cheered when Drum did it.

LYING TO THE MOTHERS: No, the dissembling never stops—dissembling that goes completely ignored by the mainstream “press corps.” On Tuesday, for example, President Bush staged a rally in favor of private accounts at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi. Average people who trust their president attended the hour-long session. And here is what their president told them about the future of Social Security:

BUSH IN MISSISSIPPI (5/3/05): Part of my responsibility as your President is to tell you exactly what's going on, to lay it right out there for you to hear. The way it works in Social Security is your payroll taxes—and you pay a lot of payroll taxes—go into the system, and we're paying for retirees, like two of the people sitting up here today...You're paying in and it's going out. And in 2017, because baby boomers like me are getting ready to retire, the system starts to go in the red. In 2027, it's $200 billion a year in the red. In 2030, it's $300 billion. In 2041, it is bankrupt. In other words, it's out.

So think about what I'm telling you. This is the math, folks, this is exactly what's going to take place unless we do something about it. I'm ready to—people like me are retiring; we expect the government to make good on the promise, of course. But yet, we don't have enough money coming into the system to do so. So a lot of younger workers out there will be paying into a system that's bankrupt.

“This is the math, folks,” Bush told the audience. “This is exactly what's going to take place.” But even as he applauded himself for his candor, Bush was baldly misleading his audience. In 2041, he told them, Social Security would be “bankrupt:” “In other words, it’s out,” he said. And as the session wound on and on, he kept ramping up his misstatements. Here’s the way the president misled a farmer named Coley Bailey, one of the many hand-picked rubes who shared the stage with their president:
BUSH (5/3/05): See, what he's saying is there's a cloudy future. Do you know how many young people are saying, “I'm not so sure I'm going to see anything from Social Security?” It's beginning to sink in. People say, “Well, I'm more likely to see a UFO than I am a Social Security check if I'm 35 and under.” It's beginning to—people are beginning to understand the nature of the issue. And I mean, people can say, well, he's making up the numbers. These numbers are real, folks, that we're just talking about...My job is to lay it out, to tell you the truth.
In this passage, Bush does what he does at every stop. He endorses the ludicrous view of the grossly misled—the view that people under 35 are “more likely to see a UFO than a Social Security check.” Bush knows that view is utterly foolish—but he knows that average citizens don’t. So he routinely vouches for this ludicrous view, as he did in the quoted exchange. Moments later, he spoke with a “younger mom” named Cynthia Roberts. And he played her for a total fool too:
ROBERTS (5/3/05): I've worked here for about three years now and loved every minute of it. My thoughts are similar to Coley's as far as Social Security. I don't really think those benefits will be here, not only for myself, but also for my two children who are 17 years old.

BUSH: See, again, I know I'm getting repetitive, but I hear this story a lot, a younger mom saying, “Mr. President, I don't think the benefits are going to be there for me.” I'm worried about it. She's beginning to understand the math.

In fact, Roberts doesn’t “understand the math”—but her president told the crowd that she did. But so it goes as Bush tours the country—on and on and on and on. There seems to be no one he won’t lie to or baldly mislead. Indeed, as he closed the session in Mississippi, he doled out one last groaner:
BUSH (5/3/05): If you're young and working, think about this—the system goes broke in 2041. It's not all that long from now, really, when you think about it. And you work all your life putting your money into a system that's going broke—a little discouraging.
But the system doesn’t “go broke” in 2041, not according to the forecast of the SS trustees, the forecast from which Bush draws all his numbers. Payroll taxes will still be rolling in, and benefit checks will still be rolling out—benefit checks that are larger than today’s, even if they’re adjusted for inflation. Bush knows this, but he knows these average people don’t—and he wants to get them good and frightened. That’s why it’s so amazing when he says things like this, about a woman named Deanie Smith:
BUSH (5/3/05): Yes. And I understand when you talk about Social Security, somebody is going to pop up and try to frighten Deanie Smith, or friends. That's how you stop things in American politics, you just try to scare people. And I appreciate you saying that you—

SMITH: I appreciate your saying it's going to be safe, too.

BUSH: Well, that's it, and I'm going to keep saying it, because it's the truth. And everybody who's involved with this issue knows it's the truth. [Applause.]

Bush had said the system would be safe for people born before 1950. And yes, that did include Deanie Smith, because Deanie Smith is 84 years of age. But so what? Bush won’t even respect a aged grandmother. The president deceived Deanie too.

Indeed, the amazing thing about Bush’s recent sessions is the way he is willing to frighten citizens—average people who plainly trust the things their president is saying. Is there any limit to this man’s dishonesty? Just consider two of the people he spoke with yesterday in Washington. One day after his Mississippi disgrace, Bush addressed the Latino Coalition Small Business Conference. During his presentation, Bush spoke with a young man named Jose Gomez:

BUSH WITH LATINO COALITION (5/4/05): I'm glad you're here. Give us a sense of who you are, what you're doing.

JOSE GOMEZ: It's an honor to be here with you. My name is Jose Gomez. This is my lovely wife, Jessica. We've been married for almost five years. We have three beautiful kids. I currently attend DeVry University. I'm a full-time student.

BUSH: Yes? What are you studying?

JOSE GOMEZ: I'm studying network system administrator.

BUSH: Network systems administrator. Would you like to try to describe what that means to the technologically illiterate? [Laughter.]

JOSE GOMEZ: Basically, I will be taking care of a network in a business, or something. But I, personally, want to own my own business.

BUSH: Want to own your own business? That's great.

JOSE GOMEZ: Yes, I want to start my own business later on, in the future.

In other word, Gomez is the salt of the earth. Soon, Bush spoke with his wife, Jessica Gomez. And she told Bush how frightened she is. Watch the way a man like Bush will play with a young mother’s fears:
BUSH (5/4/05): You've got three little kids. Jessica, you want—

JESSICA GOMEZ: I have three beautiful children: Joslynn, who is four; Jovanni, who is two; and Isabella, who is one.

BUSH: Good, I'm looking forward to meeting them afterwards.

JESSICA GOMEZ: They're looking forward to it, too. I worry more about their future, as any other mother does. I worry about that if the system continues the way it is, as you said before, by the time they work, they're going to be working twice as hard to take care of us when we retire.

BUSH: That's right.

JESSICA GOMEZ: So that when it's time for them to retire, they're going to be just be so worn out, they're not going to—they're going to be broke, both emotionally and financially.

BUSH: Interesting thought, isn't it? Mom is sitting here, saying, I've watched—listened to the data. So the system starts to go broke 2017; 2041, as Fidel said, there's nothing left. And she's got little kids. She's going to be paying into that system, and so are they. It's a troublesome thought for moms and dads to think about the system as it is.

Disgraceful, isn’t it? Lying in the face of this worried young mother, Bush told her that, in 2041, “there’s nothing left” in Social Security. And then, of course! He knew what to do! He dragged out that favorite old groaner:
BUSH (5/4/05): You know, a lot—I talk to a lot of young folks, like Jose and Jessica. There was an interesting survey once that somebody pointed out to me, that said younger people think it's more likely they're going to see a UFO than get a Social Security check. [Laughter.] Well, if you feel that way, and you watch that money come out of your check every month, it's a little discouraging, isn't it? To be paying into something that you're not sure is going to be around.
Clearly, there’s nothing this grimy man won’t say—and no one he won’t say it to. Indeed, if one reads through the transcripts from this week’s twin events, one is struck, again and again, by the fears expressed by the average citizens who are being treated like fools by their president. The fears of Jessica Gomez for her three children. The fears of Roberts for her two kids. And yes, the fears of 84-year-old Deanie Smith: “What I'm concerned about is my son and my daughter and their two sons. Will there be anything left?”

Of course there will be something left; Bush knows it as well as he knows his own name. But he knows that Deanie Smith doesn’t know, and there’s nothing this grimy man won’t say, even to mothers and grandmothers. Here he is in Mississippi with Cynthia Roberts, playing on a mother’s primal fear:

BUSH (5/3/05): We'll get the Social Security system fixed so that you can't sit up here with the next President you visit with and say, “I don't think I'm ever going to see a dime.” I think if we keep talking about this the Congress is going to say, Oops, people like Cynthia know we got a problem and they expect us to get something done. So we're going to keep working on it. But in the meantime, you're building up an asset base —I presume, with your children in mind.

ROBERTS: That is correct, they are always in mind.

BUSH: Yes, always on your mind.

ROBERTS: Always on my mind.

This Sunday, of course, is Mother’s Day. And George Bush had some presents for Roberts—disinformation, disrespect, phony fear.

POSTSCRIPT—WHERE IS THE PRESS CORPS: In the past week, Bush has conducted SS pep rallies in Falls Church, Virginia; in Canton, Mississippi; and in front of the Latino Coalition in Washington. During these events, he has baldly dissembled—and openly lied—about the future of Social Security. In Falls Church, he told five young workers that, absent major changes, there will be “nothing there” in Social Security when they retire in 2041. In Canton, he told Nissan employees that the system will be bankrupt that year: “In other words, it’s out.” And he told the Latino Coalition that there will be “nothing left” in Social Security by that time. These statements aren’t simply misleading; according to Bush’s own projections, these statements are blatantly, laughably false. And Bush kept pimping up the nonsense with that disgraceful old UFO tale. People who think they won’t get a check “understand the math,” this fake man disgracefully said.

Yep! Bush keeps dissembling and lying, wherever he goes—and the “press corps” hides beneath its desks. They refuse to discuss the endless dissembling that drives what amounts to a snake oil tour. On Mother’s Day week, Bush even lies to 84-year-old grandmothers—and the press corps won’t even stir about that. Has any president ever offered such sustained nonsense about such a major domestic initiative? We don’t know, but you can’t get the press corps to care. And by the way—do you remember how much they used to care about the truthfulness of public figures? Did Al Gore lie about Love Story? For two solid years, these pious fakes pretended that they had to know. For two solid years, these pious frauds kept pretending that they deeply cared. Can’t you see why liberals and Dems have to name names again and again?

OH YES, ONE FINAL POINT: Be sure to enjoy Michael Kinsley’s latest. It’s called, “In Praise of Bush’s Honesty.”