Hitting Bush Hard on Social Security
Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Political Agenda of the New York Times.
By: ClayWaters

Hitting Bush Hard on Social Security

Thursday's prominent front-page story from David Rosenbaum and Robin Toner, "Introducing Private Investments to the Safety Net," hammers Bush on the Social Security proposal he outlined in Wednesday night's State of the Union address.

After using bullet points to outline the highlights of Bush's plan, the brickbats commenced: "The costs of the proposal would be substantial. Presumably all of it would be borrowed, vastly increasing a swollen budget deficit."

A laundry list of criticism follows: "The proposal would amount to one of the biggest changes in government social policy in history. But just as remarkable is what was not addressed. The president did not say what benefit reductions he favored. The official who briefed reporters spoke only of unspecified 'benefit offsets' and did not say what the cuts would entail or how large they would be. The president did not address the cost to the government of paying full benefits to retirees for decades while tax money was being diverted into private accounts. Nor did he say how much this would increase the annual budget deficit."

But wait, there's more: "There was no mention of what would happen to workers who become disabled, currently 16 percent of Social Security beneficiaries, or the minor children of workers who die, now 7 percent of beneficiaries. People who stop working or die young would obviously have much less in their retirement accounts than those who worked until retirement age. Nor was there discussion of whether spouses would have access to the private accounts or what would happen in the case of divorce. No one in the administration mentioned how workers who retired when the market was in a slump would be protected financially. There was no discussion of exceptions to no-withdrawal rule -- for someone with large medical expenses associated with a terminal illness, for example. All these difficult questions, some of them possibly deal breakers, were left for negotiations with Congress."

For the full report from Rosenbaum and Toner, click here:

Bush's Budget "Brutal in its Cuts"

At the very end of Thursday's story on the political significance of the guests invited to watch the State of the Union, reporters Elisabeth Bumiller and Anne Kornblut suggest "The view among a number of White House officials was that the big news would come on Monday, when the president is to unveil a budget described as brutal in its cuts in domestic programs."

(Note: The first part of that sentence is different in the online version.)

That's not a new theme for Bumiller: Exactly a year ago today she was lamenting the deepcuts in the budget for fiscal year 2005 (a 2.4 trillion dollar budget, incidentally).

For the full story, click here:

Social Security Reform: Snowe Chance?

Carl Hulse and Adam Nagourney read congressional body language at Bush's State of the Union and conclude the president's Social Security proposal is in for tough sledding in Thursday's "Democrats Assail Bush Plan While Republicans Worry."

They don't waste time, beginning their story: "President Bush's address on Wednesday left some already-anxious Republicans worried about the difficulties of pushing through a Social Security overhaul, as Democrats hammered Mr. Bush's cornerstone proposal as a risky gamble that would swell the nation's deficit and imperil the retirement of millions of Americans."

Later they spy on Sen. Snowe: "There were Republicans who grew visibly uncomfortable as Mr. Bush talked about overhauling Social Security. After the speech, a number of Republicans who said they had been on the fence on the issue said their minds had not been changed. When Mr. Bush declared that the best way to change the system for young workers was to create personal retirement accounts, Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a moderate Republican from Maine who has voiced skepticism about Mr. Bush's plan, perched on her seat, smiling but not clapping, as the rest of her Republican colleagues rose around her."

For the full story from Hulse and Nagourney, click here:

"The Luckiest Politician Alive"

Television-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley grades Bush's State of the Union delivery in Thursday's "Washington's Oscar Night: Red and Blue And Smiling," and attributes much of his recent success to dumb luck: "Mr. Bush is sometimes described as the luckiest politician alive, and once again his good fortune played out just in time for the first State of the Union address of his second term. He faced Congress fresh from a surprisingly successful Iraqi election that for a moment at least cast the war in a rosier light, allowing the president to take a victory lap -- with standing ovations on both sides of the aisle."

Stanley mocks Bush's pronunciation (and, in a dose of instant karma, immediately misspells a word herself): "Mr. Bush is not known for natural eloquence (he made the word 'duty' sound like the second word in 'Howdy Doodie' [sic]), but he does know how to put silence to effective use. The most dramatic moment occurred when he acknowledged a dead marine's Texan mother in the balcony. As she handed what appeared to be her son's dogtags to an Iraqi woman, the president bit his lip and looked like he was about to cry -- a poignant tableau that superseded all the flag-covered coffins the Pentagon has shielded from cameras and all the soldiers' funerals the president has not attended."

That part about funerals is a red herring -- presidents almost neverattend funerals of soldiers in wartime, though that fact hasn't deterred the Times from bringing up the canard againand again.

For the rest of Stanley's review, click here:

"The Fulminations of Right-Wing Conservatives"

Jane Krakowski's cabaret show, "Better When It's Banned," is reviewed by critic Stephen Holden, who isn't known for keeping his liberalopinions out of his write-ups on shows and movies. Indeed, at the end of his Thursday Arts review, he works in this tidbit about the revue of racy songs from the 1920s: "The songs were punctuated with readings of excerpts from Hollywood's Production Code, a behavioral template for on-screen manners whose prissy, goody-goody agenda makes the fulminations of right-wing conservatives sound almost liberal."

For Holden's full review, click here:

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