The Politics of Fear’

Is Barack Obama running the most disgraceful Presidential campaign of modern times? The evidence continues to mount, as Obama’s ads and speeches are filled not only with exaggerations and distortions, but with outright lies: claims about John McCain that Obama must know are false.

Like many Democrats, Obama engages in the politics of fear. He tries, especially, to scare senior citizens. In one ad, he asserts that the “Bush-McCain privatization plan” would “cut Social Security benefits in half.” That this crude lie is absurd on its face does not mean that no fearful seniors will fall for it. writes:

This is a falsehood sure to frighten seniors who rely on their Social Security checks. In truth, McCain does not propose to cut those checks at all.

The ad refers to a Bush proposal from 2005 to hold down the growth of benefits for future retirees. Compared to the buying power of benefits paid to today’s retirees, that would not have been a “cut” for anybody. It would have been a “cut” of half only in relation to benefits now promised to retirees who have yet to be born. And for average workers, that “cut” in 2075 was projected by one of Obama’s own economic advisers to be 28 percent, not “half.”

Obama continued to try to scare senior citizens with lies yesterday in a speech in Daytona Beach, Florida. Obama said:

Without Social Security half of elderly women would be living in poverty – half. But if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week.

Once again,

That’s untrue. All current retirees would be covered by exactly the same Social Security benefits they are now under what the Obama campaign likes to call the “Bush-McCain privatization plan,” which Bush pushed for unsuccessfully in 2005.

Actually, under the current Social Security system workers don’t have “their Social Security tied up” anywhere. They have no retirement assets, only a promise from the federal government that will be revised or rescinded when the burden becomes unsustainable. If we had a sensible retirement system–one based on savings, not taxes on the next generation–workers would accumulate real assets, not revocable promises. They wouldn’t have to put their money in the stock market, of course, but every person I know who has a 401k account or similar retirement portfolio puts at least some of that money in equities. As a person nears retirement he normally shifts his investments from equities into bonds; if he wants to begin his retirement with investments that are self-evidently more secure than the government’s promise to pay benefits, he can put the whole thing in government bonds.

Barack Obama knows all of this, of course; he just doesn’t want America’s workers to have the same opportunity to accumulate wealth that he himself enjoys. We’re used to the Democrats demagoging Social Security, but Obama goes beyond demagoguery when he engages in outright lies.

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