Oklahoman Attacks Senior Citizens

Oklahoma Media Watch will continue to monitor The Daily Oklahoman’s editorial distortions about the ongoing Social Security issue. All “The Watch” asks for is a full vetting of the issue when the newspaper’s editorial writers go at it. I agree with The Oklahoman editorial writers that this is a singularly important issue, but the newspapers omissions about the issue are deceitful. At the very least, they should allow dissenting opinions. I guess I should be happy the paper has stopped attacking, for the moment anyway, the AARP, right?

In its editorial, “Just saying no: Democrats no help on Social Security,” The Oklahoman makes the point that the Democrats are rejecting President George Bush’s Social Security plan for private stock market accounts without offering a plan of their own. This is true enough, and if I thought Bush’s point was to really “lead” on the issue in some non-partisan way, I might think the Democrats should come up with some ideas.

But I argue, and many, many people—with far better minds and significance than me—argue the president is exaggerating the social Security funding problem to dismantle the most important social insurance program this country has ever seen. He wants to do this because Social Security was created by Democrats who cared and continued to care about middle-class people. When it comes to “leading,” our president cares only for rich people. I am not the only American to make that argument. How can the Democrats, or anyone for that matter, engage the presidential administration in debate when it is obvious that there is no “good-faith” effort to really discuss the issues?

The editorial is filled with unsupported claims about Bush’s plan. It argues that “it’s a better deal” for younger workers, that “private accounts . . likely would have a better rate of return,” and that investment accounts “could total more than $500,000 for those 30 and younger.” But the editorial offers no support for these claims.

In addition, here are two major items the editorial excludes from it argument: (1) Bush contradicted himself during his recent press conference when, on the one hand, he said Social Security’s treasury bonds represent worthless IOUs from the U.S. government and, on the other hand, he said that treasury bonds are "backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.” So which one is it? Such an obvious contradiction or “lie,” in my judgment, does not seem like it would be part of good-faith effort to me. It seems like politics as usual. (2) The editorial does not mention how the system will pay for the money that is withdrawn from it to form these private accounts. If you think that the money would come from what you have already paid in and from reduced benefits, then I think you have a valid argument. At least, you deserve a more thorough response from the president.

On a larger note, I must add that in today’s online world The Oklahoman’s editorials have become freakishly old fashioned. Here I am responding to the issue, and I have linked to other websites that would be helpful to people wanting to really get to know about the issue, or, at least, wanting alternative views to the president’s ideas. It is quite easy to link. All you find on The Oklahoman’s editorial pages these days, though, are whiny, unsupported claims. Undoubtedly, its editorial writers are afraid to try to present supporting information for its claims. Maybe we will see an editorial soon that argues we should do away with the Internet in Oklahoma.