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Selling Security on Fox - Social, that is

Reported by Chrish - March 2, 2005

On John Gibson's Big Story 3/1/05, guests Terry Holt (Republican strategist) and Hank Scheinkopf (Democrat strategist) discussed the viability of Bush's current Social Security reform/overhaul/privatization/personalization/modernization or my preference, corporatization.

At one point, Terry Holt says "people have really begun to rethink what retirement security means. They see the 401Ks are working for them, and now they see their Social Security really isn't doing well."

Gibson says, "Terry, you're right about that, there's no quibble about that, but what's going on is, if you read all the reports, (comment: from the right-wing sources), ... Republicans congresspeople are faced with a group of voters who have plenty of time to come to the meetings, always vote, and are paranoid about their Social Security checks. You can tell them all day long, this doesn't effect you, this is for younger people, but they could put some Republican seats in danger, is the president willing to lose the House over this?

There was some back and forth about which party actually does more for people, and then Holt pronounced the now familiar talking point: "Democrats don't have a plan. They have their heads in the sand and pretend the Social Security crisis doesn't exist."

Gibson asked Holt if the president has a policy problem or a public relations problem. Holt replied that it's not really a policy problem, there's a lot of ways we can fix this, and we have time to fix it, that's why the president says to do it now. The politics again, it's not for the "faint of political heart." (Second time used in this segment; look for this phrase to be repeated ad nauseum.) It's gonna take courage...and time to educate the public...etc. etc.

When Scheinkopf admits that the Democrats can take no action and the proposal will die naturally, it's a non-winner, Holt says that's not what a leader does. Scheinkopf replies that he is not a leader, he's a political strategist.

Gibson, again addressing Holt, asks how do you seperate out the people - and this seems to me (him) a legitimate concern for Congresspeople who want to support the president's program - you've got a whole group of people who won't be affected by it, they're the one who come to the meetings, they're the ones who have the time, they're the ones who vote, they're the ones who are paranoid. Meanwhile all the people who will be affected by it and who may indeed want it, are out working for a living, and don't know there's a battle going on. (Comment: Duh, and you want to have them making long-term investment decisions? Which is it, are they savvy or dumb? Can't have it both ways.)
Scheinkopf answers, saying they haven't been impacted yet by thousands and thousands of gross rating points of television and political campaigns, which will change the nation, the dynamic altogether.
Gibson says "Quickly, Terry" and Holt says it takes time to bring the public on board big and complicated policy challenges and it takes leaders who are willing to put their political will and political capital on the line, and we have a president who's does that, and I think over time we'll see the public shift and say let's fix this program.

Comments: Gibson directly addressed/questioned the Republican strategist four times and the Democrat twice; when the Democrat jumped in and answered the last question, posed to the R, Gibson made sure the Holt got in his last word. Even though it seemed a bipartisan debate the host's preference for one participant over the other threw the advantage to the Republican point of view.

I found Holt's comment that people see their 401Ks working and the Social Security not earning as much revealing. The people who will need SS the most do not have 401ks or well-funded retirement plans. The poor want security, not profitability. They're not greedy, trying to maximize their investments. SS is essentially a forced savings account for them and they are glad it's there. If they had that money they would not invest it; they'd get new tires or just live a little more comfortably. No offense to young people, but having been one myself a while ago, most 20 and 30 somethings are not seriously saving and would live a little higher if they had the extra money.

Holt's use of the now-common "heads in the sand" insult and the new "faint of political heart" can be foundwherever the RNC/Fox echo chamber reaches...even in the so-called liberal media.
* Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - FRIST: No, it doesn't. As you know, Social Security is going to require engaging the American people. We have got a problem, a major problem that's inevitable, driven by this tidal wave of demographics that people just can't hide from. They can't stick their heads in the sand.
* Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) - By contrast, Democrats have a ``do-nothing plan,'' said Representative Ron Lewis, a Kentucky Republican. ``The do- nothing plan would raise payroll taxes significantly, cut benefits and increase retirement age. It's better to do something than stick our heads in the sand,'' Lewis said.
* Sunday, February 27, 2005, Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: The Democrats' plan is to stick their heads in the sand. The problem is that every year that we allow to go by means that the reduction in benefits or the increase in taxes will have to be larger.
* Tuesday, February 1, 2005 WASHINGTON (CNN) - No specifics have yet been put on paper and submitted to Congress, but White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday night's speech would include "greater detail."
"We can debate whether it's a crisis or not a crisis, but you can't ignore the fact that it is a serious problem that we face and that it only gets worse over time," McClellan said.
"People can look the other way and stick their head in the sand and think that the problem will go away, but it doesn't. It gets worse over time."

Last but not least was Gibson's blatant complaining that seniors are participating in the discussion, even though they've been assured that the "program" will not affect them personally (so presumably they should just shut up). Gibson, Bush, and Republicans need to wake up to the fact that most seniors CARE about what their kids and grandkids are going to inherit and many are quite worried about the way things are going, economically, environmentally, and militarily. They've seen the cycles and know that having something secure can make the difference between abject poverty and scraping by. This ties in with Fox's thinly veiled attempts to diminish the AARP and sucker their viewers over to the right-wing "alternative", USANext. To quote Hank Scheinkopf, "Let 'em go after it all day long. It's a non-winner."

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