I've documented deceptive statements on Social Security solvency by U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow in a previous post. As I was writing this, Brad DeLong posted quotes from Snow and noted how disingenuous it is for him to say he is confused and cannot understand how anyone would oppose privatization.
I want to highlight another deception in the same set of quotes that Brad refers to. In the quotes below, Snow first makes it clear that benefits will not increase for younger workers by qualifying his statements carefully. The inference is that benefits will decrease for younger workers. Then, he says that privatization will make younger workers better off.
Here’s the lead from the story:
BOZEMAN, Mont. (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Wednesday he was confused by resistance to the Bush administration's plans to overhaul the Social Security system…
He certainly is confused. Or worse. Listen to what else he says:
Snow, in remarks to the Chamber of Commerce in Bozeman, said he believed personal accounts for young workers would be cost-free for the existing Social Security system and would not affect benefits to retirees or near-retirees.
Cost free? Does he really believe that? And look how carefully this is worded – it won’t affect benefits for current “retirees or near-retirees.” What isn’t said is important. If they didn’t intend to cut benefits to workers who aren’t near retirement, he would say so. So they clearly understand benefits will have to be cut for younger workers.
Then why does he say:
It's a way to allow young people, and future generations, to do better than they otherwise would be able to do.
If they are going to do better, then why doesn’t he say benefits will increase? Because they won’t, and that means young people won’t do better. So why is he saying they will?
The more quotes I read from Snow and the rest of the administration’s sales team on their 60 stop tour, the clearer it becomes that the administration is willing to use deception, misleading statements, and whatever else is necessary in order to sell this proposal.
They are making it very clear that privatization cannot stand on its own merits. It can only pass if they succeed in confusing and misleading people into believing their deceptions.