Another in a series evaluating the accuracy of political advertising.
Candidate: Steve Forbes
Markets: Iowa, New Hampshire, national cable networks
Producer: Eisner and Associates
Time: 30 seconds
Audio: I propose removing all the taxes and penalties on Social Security benefits because you've already paid the tax during your working life. And for those about to go on the system, you keep the old system because they've made lifetime decisions based on those promises. But for younger people, we'll give you a choice. What I want to do is phase in a new system where most of your Social Security taxes will be deposited directly into your own private account. The money belongs to you. The government can't touch it.
Analysis: The black-and-white footage of Forbes, with quick-cut closeups of pensive voters around a table, projects an aura of seriousness. The candidate is careful to say that his plan to change Social Security will be a matter of "choice." The ad doesn't mention the risks involved if individuals invest their retirement money and the stock market or particular funds decline. While Forbes says "the money belongs to you," his plan would not allow withdrawal of the funds until retirement age and would restrict how the money could be invested, creating oversight problems. Forbes's proposal to abolish taxes on Social Security recipients who earn more than $15,500 will be popular in some quarters, but could spark criticism that affluent or wealthy retirees are receiving full government benefits.