[Paleopsych] Exposing the Echo Chamber Behind Social Security Privatization

Michael Christopher anonymous_animus at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 2 20:56:01 UTC 2005

Exposing the Echo Chamber Behind Social Security

The Bush administration ventriloquists are out in full
force these days, breathlessly hyping "Personal
Retirement Accounts" as a way to save Social Security
by destroying it. For the average voter, getting a
handle on what the Bush administration is proposing to
do to Social Security is quite a challenge. The dozens
of bobbing heads and clicking fingers, holding forth
on cable news programming and the Internet is enough
to make anyone's head spin. Is that spokesman from the
Alliance for Worker Retirement Security speaking as an
independent economics expert, a civic-minded
individual or as a paid shill from a corporate-funded
front group?

If you're having trouble keeping track of all the
players, our very own SourceWatch can help. It will
tell you that the Alliance is sponsored by the
National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Roundtable,
among other pro-business groups. It shares its
executive director Derrick Max and a number of its
members with the Coalition for the Modernization and
Protection of America's Social Security (COMPASS). In
fact, the Alliance and COMPASS both count as members
of the United Seniors Association, a corporate-funded
lobbying group that recently changed its name to

The New York Times reported Monday that USANext is
launching a campaign "to spend as much as $10 million
on commercials and other tactics assailing AARP, the
powerhouse lobby opposing [Social Security] private
investment accounts." To oversee the operation,
USANext hired Chris LaCivita, recently of the 527
groups Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Progress for
America and an employee of the DCI Group, a firm
specializing in astroturf with close ties to the Bush
White House. True to its word USANext, ran an ad on
the American Spectator that equates the AARP to the
"spit-on-the-troops/gay marriage lobby," as
TalkingPointsMemo blogger Josh Marshall has been

Progress for America, after raising $38 million last
year to support Bush's reelection, has also jumped in
to the Social Security privatization game. PFA "has
estimated it will spend $20 million promoting private
accounts. It has run a series of ads on cable
television, including a spot that invokes the legacy
of Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt, who signed
the legislation creating the retirement system," the
Houston Chronicle reported.

PFA told the Chronicle it will be asking past donors
for money to fund their new campaign. The head of the
prominent investment firm Charles Schwab contributed
$50,000 to the group's political arm in 2004. Schwab
gave $75,000 more to the Club for Growth, which is
also lobbying for Social Security privatization and
expects to spend $10 million lobbying to promote
private accounts. Peter J. Ferrara, an alumnus of the
Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and National
Center for Policy Analysis, is heading the Club's
Social Security Project. 

"The emergence of the center-right phalanx backing the
Social Security proposal is a major victory for the
Cato Institute, a prominent libertarian group," The
Washington Post's Thomas Edsall wrote recently. "In
the late 1970s and early 1980s, Cato was almost alone
in its willingness to challenge the legitimacy of the
existing Social Security system, a politically
sacrosanct retirement program. Recognizing the
wariness of other conservatives to tackle Social
Security, Cato in 1983 published an article calling
for privatization of the system. The article argued
that companies that stand to profit from privatization
- 'the banks, insurance companies and other
institutions that will gain' - had to be brought into
alliance. Second, the article called for initiation of
'guerrilla warfare against both the current Social
Security system and the coalition that supports it.'" 

Clearly, the "guerrilla warfare" has begun. And while
it may seem like we're playing a GOP version of Six
Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the stakes are high. The
foundations of the U.S. system to ensure that average
workers and their families are not left penniless, out
in the cold is under serious attack. At SourceWatch
we're tracking these innocent-enough sounding groups
and what they are doing. And the best part is, you can
help. SourceWatch is open to online citizens to add or
edit any article in our collaborative database of
people, groups and ideas shaping the public agenda. 

The uncovering of the GOP plant Jeff Gannon (aka James
Guckert) in the White House press room was the work of
online citizen journalists, using their web research
skills to expose the fake reporter and the White
House's failure to explain truthfully how he got to
ask the President a question. We do the same thing at
SourceWatch, documenting the hidden connections
between corporate trade associations, astroturf
groups, and the White House. 

Want to cover the newly minted website Generations
Together? Or find out what impact Women for a Social
Security Choice is having? How would you like to dig
in and discover the common elements shared by Alliance
for Retirement Prosperity and FreedomWorks? 

So far, we've catalogued over two dozen articles on
individuals and groups that are promoting Bush's
Social Security privatization plan. There's plenty of
groups and people to go around. To get involved, visit
SourceWatch's "Welcome newcomers" page. On it you'll
find tips for using a Wiki (SourceWatch runs on Wiki
software), guidelines for writing SourceWatch articles
and for research using the Web, plus advise from
experienced SourceWatchers on how to research front


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