Clinton untruthful? Alert the press!

Hank Stanley arjohns at ADNC.COM
Sat Feb 21 15:58:56 MST 1998


Feb. 20, 1998; Volume 13, Number 7

Truth deficit
Standing in front of a huge mock-up of a Social Security card at Georgetown
University, President Clinton last week field-tested one of the top budget
themes for 1998: "Save Social Security first."

It's a nice slogan--and, clearly, most Americans believe Social Security is
worth saving, at least in some form or fashion. But the president is again,
to put it in the charitable words of economist Martin Feldstein, engaging
in "a highly nuanced construction of language." <<<<Ooooh, great line!!>>>>

Mr. Clinton's recent budget proposal does not attempt to "Save Social
Security first." On the contrary, it puts the future of Social Security
dead last in order of budget priority.

How? The only thing that puts the president's much-ballyhooed 1999 budget
into "balance" is the inclusion of more than $100 billion borrowed from the
Social Security trust fund-to be paid back who knows when. This same
budgetary sleight-of-hand is behind all of Mr. Clinton's projected
"surpluses" over the next 10 years. The surpluses exist only because of
borrowing from funds earmarked for Social Security.

As Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) explained last week in The Washington
Post, "[T]he deficit is not eliminated; the deficit is merely moved from
the general fund into the Social Security trust fund."

What this means is that Mr. Clinton's claim that he wants to "reserve every
penny" of the budget surpluses to "save" Social Security is nonsense. Think
about it. This is like borrowing money from your savings account to put in
your checking account so you can write a check to pay back your savings

Surely there must be method to Mr. Clinton's madness?  Indeed. By creating
this high-sounding linguistic fiction, the president is laying the
political groundwork necessary for the following argument-appearing soon on
TV sets everywhere-against Republican would-be tax cutters: Any general tax
cut would "spend" the surplus, thus destroying all hope of saving the
nation's most-loved social program. To support a tax cut is to oppose the
preservation of Social Security for future generations.

Last week at Georgetown, Mr. Clinton waxed eloquent about his hope that
Congress would "rise above partisanship" and join him in working to "save
Social Security first." Later, White House aides stressed to reporters that
the president's strong desire is to keep Social Security from becoming a
partisan issue in this year's congressional elections. Nice try.

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