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Shepard Smith - Doesn't see Progress in the Selling of Social Security

Reported by Ellen - March 16, 2005

Today on Studio B, Shepard Smith played a kind of bad cop to Carl Cameron's good cop (If you're for President Bush's Social Security Plan).

Before they started speaking about the social security plan, Carl Cameron made sure he got in a big, 'chest puffed out' plug for George Bush. He said that the president called this press conference today, on the 'same' (his emphasis) day as the newly minted Iraqi transitional national assembly held its very first meeting.

He went on to say that the president wanted to make a point of that (I'm sure he did) and say this is what he called a "very bright sign" and a sign of improvement in the ongoing march toward freedom around the world, particularly in the Middle East where there's been a number of developments in the past couple of weeks. (Whew, I feel patriotic, don't you?)

Cameron said the president also wanted to lend his support to the ongoing debate for social security reforms on Capitol Hill. Cameron claimed this was the centerpiece of the president's domestic agenda.

Cameron claimed that the polls have not been particularly favorable, in fact he said there is a "very, very unified Democratic oppostion (he forgot about the Republican opposition) to the President's proposal for personal retirement accounts. (comment: they're no longer privatized, they're personal?) But the President said he welcomes a resolution that took place in the Senate yesterday. 100 to nothing that there needs to be a permanent structural change for Social Security.

Then Cameron interpreted for George Bush. He said that, "The President was basically saying that he's pleased that Senators have agreed to that and now it's time to actively come forward with the actual proposals for the reform. (Aww, thanks, Cameron, we couldn't figure that one out)

Cameron said the president claimed he deliberately didn't come up with an actual proposal himself because in his own words, "The first bill is always dead on arrival on Capitol Hill." (Yeah, aha, that's it, that's the reason he didn't come up with an 'actual' plan)

This is when Smith played the bad cop. He said to Cameron, "He said he was happy with the progress being made on the selling of Social Security and I looked under 'progress' and I can't find it, what is it?

Cameron started backpeddling and said the idea being that slowly but surely there are now a growing number of actual legislative bills up on Capitol Hill, some in the Senate, some in the House, that would begin the process of making a reform. (C'mon Cameron, answer the man's question)

Cameron went on to say that the more the president talks about it, in fact, the American public is becoming more convinced that there is a problem, (proof? polls, data, anything?) that Social Security needs a reform.

He then said that It's when you attach President Bush's name and the idea of personal accounts to actual reforms that numbers go south, (Oh, we get it, so there really isn't any progress) so, in the abstract, the battle for public opinion and the idea that social security needs to be reformed, the president is making headway and he has to keep on ringing that bell.

Comment: Smith surprised me when he actually came out and said that he didn't see any progress in the president's 'selling of social security'. Cameron twisted it every which way so that by the end of his story, it would appear that the president's plan was winning with the American public's support. 'Abstractly', that is.

Reported by Donna

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