Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: <i>Your tax dollars at work!</i> .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Your tax dollars at work!

Bush Sets Up Social Security 'War Room'


WASHINGTON - A new Social Security war room inside the Treasury Department is pumping out information to sell President Bush's plan, much like any political campaign might do. It's part of a coordinated effort by the Bush administration.

The internal, taxpayer-funded campaigning is backed up by television advertisements, grass-roots organizing and lobbying from business and other groups that support the Bush plan.

The president's opponents are organized too, though they do not enjoy the resources of the White House or Treasury to sell their message.

For the administration, the communications effort is being coordinated out of Treasury's public affairs office through the new Social Security Information Center. Three people have been hired, with two more hires possible soon. The first three employees are veterans of the Bush-Cheney campaign or the Republican National Committee.

"The uber purpose is to centralize and coordinate the administration's public affairs and communication activities," said chief Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols. "Standing up this office demonstrates how important fixing Social Security is."

Dude, your Reich is showing. Uber purpose? At least you could try to hide your Fatherland fantasies like the other dubya flunkies.

It is developing talking points to ensure that all officials are "singing off the same song sheet," Nichols said. And it will soon launch a Web site featuring the president's comments on the issue, copies of speeches and news stories and columns that are supportive of the Bush plan.

Additionally, it will deliver "rapid response" to media coverage it doesn't like. "If there is an editorial in a paper that does not reflect the view of the president, they will engage in the traditional rapid response effort to ensure an op-ed or letter to the editor that states our view," Nichols said.

Aren't you glad to see that your taxes are going to such a worthy cause - selling the public something they don't need, at a price they can't afford. It's the American way!

The center is sending e-mails highlighting positive press coverage and administration statements to thousands of people including reporters, congressional staffers and members of the public.

Oh great! More junk mail. I wonder if there's a special spam blocker for this. Wait! Maybe this is our chance to bust them - for email fraud?

"They have the right to say their piece and to respond, but to create a whole team of PR experts to try and influence the media, I think, is an excessive use of taxpayer money," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, who opposes the Bush plan.

Well, they've tried every other method of influencing the media, including threats, extortion and cash payments. This is just the next item on the list in their playbook. Sure it's probably illegal, but that's never stopped them before.

What I don't get is why the public and the media doesn't see through this hype. I'm still seeing news reports that refer to personal accounts as supplements to Social Security benefits, and that this plan won't affect people over 55. And as few comments as I get on my posts, the ones I do get reflect these beliefs.

Not to mention that we've got to pay for this boondoggle, and for the fallout from Bush's plan. I feel sorry for our kids and grandkids. They're going to be paying for this fiasco for a long, long time.

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