Trust but verify

For Your Consideration

Alan CheahApril 25, 2012 

In J.R. Frolich's April 19 column, "The Game Changer, he asserts his belief by invoking Reagan statement that "It isn't that liberals are ignorant, it's just that they know so much." That isn't so. After wading through the extensive vindictive attacks that followed, I understood he was disabusing liberals of what they know about social security that just ain't so. What we learned was:

1. The original social security program was completely voluntary.

2. The voluntary contribution was 1% of the first $1,400, insinuating that it was not meant to go any higher.

3. The money contributed to social security was originally tax deductible.

4. Jimmy Carter allowed Social Security benefit payments to "immigrants." One can only assume J.R. meant illegal immigrants.

5. Clinton and Gore changed law to allow up to 85% of SS benefits to be taxe Would Reagan have said this is true? Reagan said, "Trust but verify." So, I did.

I discovered that these declarations came straight out of a viral email which has been circulating since 2009.

Further sleuthing proved all claims listed to be false except for No. 5 which is misleading in its insinuation. Claims without sourcing are problematic, so I will source what I am about to say. It is from the official historia of the Social Security System, Larry Dewitt. You can read it at the social security web site: www.ssa.gov/history/InternetMyths.html. Be sure you click the link to Part 2.

Here are the facts countering the myths:

1. Social Security payroll tax has never been voluntary.

2. In 1935 a 1% tax for both employer and employee was levied on the first $3,000 not $1,400. The rate was increased in four steps to 3% by 1949. It was never fixed.

3. Social Security paid by employees was never tax deductible. In fact, the 1935 law, Section 803, Title VIII, expressly forbade tax deductibility.

4. Carter never signed a law giving illegal immigrants Social Security benefits. An earlier email made this claim about the SSI program -- Supplemental Security income for the blind, disabled, elderly and destitute. That program, signed into law by Republican President Nixon in 1972, included legal immigrants.

5. In April 1983, President Reagan, who raised taxes 10 times during his two terms, signed legislation raising taxes up to 50% of Social Security benefits. Subsequently, Clinton raised that to 85% but the increased percentage only applied to "higher income" beneficiaries. Others remained at 50% or no taxation at all.

Several weeks ago the Star had a letter to the editor about the stimulus created zero jobs which was the No. 1 lie of the top 10 lies in 2011 from Politifact's findings. Shortly after another urban myth was perpetuated -- Obama promised 8% unemployment if the Stimulus was passed. That received a rating of three Pinocchios. Then there was a reprise of Sandra Fluke trying to get taxpayers to pay for her contraception to support her sexual lifestyle which was simply untrue if you read her testimony. Now we have this.

Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg judging by all the other viral emails I've been receiving and I'm not even on the favored list of recipients for this stuff. This compounded by the same repetition on FOX and talk radio inevitably makes fiction fact and fact fiction. I agree that voters are smart but if this is the kind of information they have to work with, does being smart make any difference? How can you not make bad choices?

Passionate rants against Progressive Democrats as Socialists is predicated upon untrue claims. Since they are false does that mean they are not Socialists?

I support anyone's right to vehemently disagree. If someone wants to attack the Progressive Democrats, they should go to the Progressive Caucus website, www.cpc.grijalva.house.gov, and pick apart the beliefs and positions they assert.

Here's the introduction to their budget. "The Budget for All puts Americans back to work, charts a path to responsible deficit reduction, enhances our economic competitiveness, rebuilds the middle class and invests in our future. Our budget makes no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits, and asks those who have benefited most from our economy to pay a sensible share.

Is this socialist or merely compassionate, human and fiscally sound?

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