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Social Credibility: Where Does the President Stand
Jan 28, 2005 - President George W. Bush signaled a significant shift in his argument for overhauling Social Security this week when he refused to use the word "crisis" to characterize Social Security. Before today, "crisis" had been the word of choice for the Bush administration, but as the most recent Gallup poll suggests, an overwhelming 82 percent of Americans disagreed with Bush's assessment that Social Security is in crisis, adding to their skepticism against his plan to privatize the system. [Gallup News Service, 1/9/05]


This shift in semantics is not a first in the White House's on-going crusade to sway public opinion, as they recently discarded the term "private accounts" for the less unfavorable "personal accounts." Recent polls and focus groups indicate some voters — especially seniors — have little support for programs with the word "private" included. So this week… the White House has exchanged their previous "private account" plan for "personal account." In a January 23 report the Washington Post reported that in an Air Force One interview last week "Bush turned prickly … when he was asked if he would talk to Senate Democrats about his 'privatization plan.' 'You mean the personal savings accounts?' the president scolded. 'We don't want to be editorializing.'"


The Bush White House recently doubled the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on private public relations firms, according to an article in USA Today, January 27. The contracts, totaling over $250 million, will most likely continue to increase in the coming months as the White House attempts to manipulate public opinion on Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. These efforts will likely coincide with Bush's strategy to tour targeted states to push his plan after the State of the Union address. US News and World Report on January 10 estimated the reform will likely cost $40 million in TV and radio advertising.

Why is it a concern that the President is paying for "good news"? Maybe because it is taxpayer money? Isn't it just easier — and cheaper — to come clean and tell the truth to the American people about his plans…instead of spending out taxpayer money to "spin" us.

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