Candidate: John F. Kerry
Images: President Bush raising his hand at swearing-in, with a blown-up Social Security card superimposed against a black backdrop
Time: 30 seconds
Audio: The truth is coming out. George Bush has finally admitted that he
intends to privatize Social Security in a second term. "Im going to come
out strong after my swearing in," Bush said, "with . . . privatizing of
Social Security." First, George Bush threatens Social Security with record
deficits of over $400 billion. Now, Bush has a plan that cuts Social
Security benefits by 30 to 45 percent. The real Bush agenda? Cutting Social
Analysis: The commercial is misleading in two ways. The "admission" by the
president comes not from a public statement but from a New York Times
Magazine article yesterday in which the president is quoted as making the
privatization comment to a "confidential" Republican luncheon. No source
for the comment is cited, but Bush campaigned in 2000 on allowing younger
workers to divert a portion of their benefits to private savings accounts.
Bush has repeatedly said current recipients would not be affected, although
the ad implies that benefits would be slashed immediately.
The estimate of retirement benefits having to be cut as much as 45 percent
comes from a Congressional Budget Office report on a proposal by a
commission on Social Security named by Bush. That proposal would also cost
the government $2 trillion over 10 years, the CBO says. But since Bush
hasnt endorsed a particular plan, there is no way to calculate the impact
of what he might do in a second term.
Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt accused Kerry of "misleading" the
elderly, saying the president has never used the word "privatization."
Referring to the Times article by Ron Suskind, who wrote a book on former
Treasury secretary Paul H. ONeill that sharply criticized the president,
Schmidt said: "The Kerry campaign is taking third-hand, made-up quotes from
avowed Bush antagonist Ron Suskind to scare seniors."
Asked how the campaign could predict what the president might do, Kerry
spokesman Chad Clanton said Bush "is either going to blow a bigger hole in
the deficit or have some major cuts in seniors benefits."
Accusing the Republicans of plotting to cut Social Security is the oldest
page in the Democratic playbook. The Kerry ad, however, is attacking a plan
that doesnt yet exist.