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Whopper or another flip-flop?

Sept. 29, 2008

by Roz Kohls

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama hasn’t been doing so well in Florida. The gap in the polls there between Obama and Republican candidate John McCain has been widening, not getting smaller.

That might partially explain why Obama tried to scare seniors there.

Obama said if the funds for Social Security that millions of seniors in Florida rely on were tied up in the stock market in a McCain privatization plan, and with all the turmoil on Wall Street recently, seniors would be at risk for poverty, according to a Sept. 22 account by Minnesotan Ed Morrissey of New Media.

That’s a whopper.

“The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005, would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. All current retirees would be covered by the same benefits they are now,” Morrissey said.

For those who would participate in privatization, it’s voluntary, and one or two bad weeks in the stock market is no guarantee that their entire investment is shot.

For the past 70 years, the stock market has provided a much higher rate of return than the lifetime return retirees now see from Social Security, Morrissey added.

Obama is a smart guy. He knew what he told seniors in Florida was false. He also knows Social Security is in bad shape.

In addition, Obama knows Democrats want to pretend Social Security is just fine, and that it will be politically unpopular to tamper with it in any way.

However, Obama’s policy page on his web site was changed Sept. 21. Before the change it said, “(Obama) does not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age.”

This sentence was deleted recently, Morrissey said.

“Is Obama about to reverse himself on Social Security and back an increase in the retirement age?” Morrissey asked.

Increasing the retirement age will buy time for an Obama administration, so if a crash in Social Security comes, Obama will be out of the White House by then.

There could be more to Obama’s whopper than his problem in the polls in Florida. Obama is setting up the voters to think his plan for raising the retirement age is more reasonable than the Republicans’ plan for partially privatizing Social Security funds.

What scares me the most is that at least some seniors will believe whatever Obama says at any given moment.