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Like Bush, FOX Plays The Social Security Race Card

Reported by Ellen - February 14, 2005

In a shameless piece of Bush propaganda, FOX News is trying to pretend that Bush's Social Security privatization scheme is part of the new civil rights era.

George W. Bush and the GOP are making a February push to attract African Americans by calling themselves the party of freedom. According to The Wilmington Journal, the GOP has taken out full-page ads boasting that it "'...has been at the forefront of the fight for civil rights,' and even produced and distributed a '2005 Republican Freedom Calendar' which highlights important party-related dates in civil rights history, and states 'Celebrating a century and a half of civil rights achievement by the Party of Lincoln,' on the cover... The 'Freedom' calendar states, 'Today, the animating spirit of the Republican Party is exactly the same as it was then: free people, free minds, free markets, free expression, and unlimited individual opportunity.'"

So it should probably come as no surprise, then, that an article on the FOX News website, Blacks Fight for 'New' Civil Rights, has the audacity to suggest - during Black History month, no less - that Social Security is one of the problems facing the African-American community and that Bush's plan to privatize it is part of the solution.

While some groups blame blatant racism for today's problems and demand increased affirmative action enforcement and government assistance, others suggest new approaches are needed to equalize the playing field. They de-emphasize affirmative action and entitlements...
Comment: Notice how some groups "blame" and "demand" while others "suggest new approaches."
...Other black conservatives suggest supporting President Bush's proposal to permit personal savings accounts from Social Security could open doors to generational stability.

"This has been a BAMPAC issue since our inception," said Alvin Williams, president of Black America's Political Action Committee, which sees the future of the black community emboldened by free enterprise and conservative ideals. "We've explored the options and concluded that it's the way to go."

Since he introduced the idea publicly in his State of the Union speech on Feb. 2, the president has been arguing that future retirees could benefit from taking a portion of their Social Security contributions and placing them in personal investment accounts. The idea is that the money can get a higher rate of return in the open market than from the government's securities options.

Notice the clever wording here: "Future retirees could benefit from private accounts... Money can get a higher rate of return in the open market..." No mention is made by "Real Journalism, Fair and Balanced" FOX that future retirees could also make poor investment decisions and get a lower rate of return in the open market than via the current plan.

From there, FOX moves to an outright lie: "Another benefit to African-Americans, the president explained, is the ability to pass on those earnings to spouses and families, instead of returning the money to the pot when a person dies. Since black men have a life expectancy of 68 years — at least six years fewer than the average white male — black men not only do not get to enjoy the full benefits they spent decades earning but they can't pass down their earnings."

Fact: Most lower-income workers will be required to purchase government lifetime annuities, financial instruments that provide a guaranteed monthly payment for life but that expire at death. Money in these annuities cannot be passed on to heirs (NY Times, 2/3/05).

Is this information something FOX knew about but didn't bother to report in its zeal to promote the President's agenda, or is it information that FOX didn't bother to research in its zeal to believe what the President said?

While some balance is provided by reporter Kelley Beaucar Vlahos when she goes on to quote criticisms of Bush's plan from the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus, she somehow never gets any comments on the fact that Bush's plan would lead to increased benefits only if the private investments earned more than 3%. What if the stock market takes a nose dive just when you're getting ready to retire? Is the local supermarket going to accept "emboldened free enterprise" in place of cash?

Furthermore, there's absolutely no indication of concern from either FOX or the president over the fact that black men have a shorter life expectancy nor that any steps will be taken to increase it. Apparently, Bush's and FOX's only interest in African-American mortality rate is viz a viz Social Security. Shame on them.

Tell FOX News that civil rights are not a propaganda tool.
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