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One-Sided on Social Security

Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A17

Jonathan Weisman's article on the potential popularity of President Bush's Social Security reforms ["Bush Social Security Plan Proves Tough Sell Among Working Poor," front page, April 18] rehashes a tired argument while perpetuating the biggest fallacy about the current Social Security system.

Using the apparent lack of interest among certain classes of workers in maintaining certain kinds of investment accounts as an argument against changing the current system proves nothing. The proposed personal accounts for Social Security will be offered in such a way as to be as "hands-on" or as "hands-off" as each worker desires. Further, the article implies that Social Security is a guaranteed entitlement. This is not the case, as the Supreme Court has ruled. Instead, Social Security is, in fact, a government benefit subject to congressional decision making, whereas proposed reforms would allow workers true ownership. There is no guarantee that Social Security payments will be made to anyone.

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Meanwhile, William Raspberry, in bemoaning the growing popularity of Fox News in his column in the same edition of The Post ["Fox's Sandstorm"], worries that coverage of the Social Security debate is devolving into nothing more than a battle of left- and right-wing biases. Perhaps if the front-page news article had tapped any independent proponent of Social Security reform as a source, the appearance of both pieces in the same edition would not be so ironic.

-- Trevor R. Martin


The writer is director of the commerce, insurance and economic development task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

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