factcheck08 May 2005
One of these days, factcheck.org is going to need to realize that being impartial and unbiased does not mean consistently taking a stance right smack in the middle of an issue. Take, for instance, their analysis of the recent Pozen “progressive indexing” social security plan proposed by the Bush administration:
Bush said, “I propose that future generations receive benefits equal to or greater than the benefits today’s seniors get.” Democrats called the proposal a deep benefit cut. But which side is right? Would benefits be equal, or would they be cut?
Both sides have a claim to accuracy, but neither is giving the full story and thus leaving citizens confused. The fact is that the current Social Security benefit formula would cause benefits for future retirees nearly to double in buying power over the next 75 years, even after adjusting for inflation.
The “buying power” argument is irrelevant here, and refers only to the indexing, not the share of wages the benefits replace – which will steadily decline due to the change in indexing. This is, you’ll note, *gasp*, a cut. Factcheck is really struggling to make it look like both sides are guilty of being misleading here. They say “neither is giving the full story”, but, you know, in the land of the 15-second sound bite, there’s only so much you can say. Bush says “benefits will remain the same”, benefitting from the fact that most Americans will fail to grasp that this means a decrease because they would normally increase. It’s like telling someone, “don’t worry, your paycheck is going to remain the same for years.” Democrats, on the other hand, say “uhh, that’s a cut, dude.” Who is being disingenuous here?
In the very same article that is going at lengths to demonstrate how both sides are “confusing citizens”, it goes on to explain exactly how, in fact, the plan does result in a cut:
Pozen’s progressive indexing plan would mean a “cut” – compared to what’s in the current benefit formula – of varying amounts depending on average salary levels and the year in which retirement begins.
So, there are cuts. How are Democrats guilty of muddling the issue here? Putting “cut” in scare-quotes doesn’t make it not a cut. Don’t like the word “cut”? Fine. “Benefit reduction.” Use something else, I don’t care. The American people deserve to know what’s really being proposed here.