Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Framing Social Insecurity

The NY Times reports that Bush is trying to build momentum for his Social Security (SocSec) privatization plans by, "searing into the public consciousness," that we are on a, "fiscally unsustainable," course (quotes are from a White House memo). They want us to believe we are facing a "crisis" and the system cannot be patched--the only thing responsible, farsighted people can do is create individual savings accounts. Unless the Democrats start framing the debate over SocSec better--and fast--seniors will be bamboozled into not mobilizing their considerable political muscle to oppose it. Here are some thoughts on how to do this.

1. Never call this sense of urgency a "crisis;" call it "frightening seniors." There is no crisis; everyone agrees that SocSec is projected to be solvent until at least 2042 or 2052. "Stop frightening seniors, Mr. President. Our seniors deserve better than to be treated like this."

2. Never say that SocSec is "broken," "bankrupt," or, "insolvent;" say that it is a "great system" that "will need our help to keep going, as it always has." Say that when it needed help in the 80s, our parents shouldered that responsibility and made sure it was still here. Now it's our turn. Say that the system has been going strong for four generations of seniors and it is still the "best thing" we have ever done for our parents. Think of Bob Dole and repeat after me: "We have the best Social Security system in the world. We have the best Social Security system in the world. We have the best..."

3. Never call SocSec a "program;" call it a "promise." The promise was that if you work hard and play by the rules, when you retire you are guaranteed a decent income for the rest of your life. It never runs out and it doesn't matter what the hell the stock market is doing. "You kept your promise with your elders when you were younger, and today's youth will keep their promise to you."

4. Never say that Bush is "reforming" SocSec; say he's "giving up" on it. Never say he's "overhauling" it; say he's "abandoning it." Say that it's our "job" to keep this promise, and, "we will do whatever it takes to make the system work. We will never give up on our parents' future or our children's. We can make sure this promise will always be there if we make that a priority." Say that this isn't how we keep promises, and we can do better than that.

5. Never say "privatize;" use the word "end" or "ruin." Saying you are going to privatize SocSec to make individual retirement accounts is like saying you are going to "burgerize" a cow to make individual meals. It may sound mighty tasty, but trust me: after you do that, there ain't no cow no more. It is shortsighted and doesn't look to the future.

6. Never say Bush is "building the future" of SocSec; say he's "turning back the clock." FDR invented it after the great depression so that seniors who had saved all their lives would never lose their retirement again. All he's doing is turning back the clock to a time when you had to fend for yourself.

7. Never say Bush is "letting" Americans "invest" in their own retirement; say he's, "leaving us no choice," but to, "gamble our retirement away on the stock market." The stock market--can you believe it? Didn't we learn that lesson in 1929? Maybe the Bushes did OK during the depression, but a lot of people did not. His plan may sound good to an MBA, but in the real world, seniors can't afford to take this kind of risk with their retirement. Let Bush invest his own money in the stock market and let seniors keep their social security.

I think this message could really work.


Raised By Republicans said...

Great suggestions!

I got another one...Talk about how social security garaunteed a minimum quality of retirement for the "Greatest Generation" that fought WWII and saved the world from fascism. Does the generation that is currently fighting the war on terror deserve any less? Support our troops! Keep Social Security!

US West said...

I hope you guys are sending these suggestions to your Congress people.