Politics

Obama Continues to Lie About McCain's Social Security Positions

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This weekend, Justin alerted us to lies Barack Obama is spreading about John McCain’s Social Security positions. Now, Ruth Marcos of the Washington Post, explores how widespread these lies are.

In addition to falsely claiming the recent stock market turmoil would have affected the benefits of current retirees under McCain’s plan, Obama is running an ad accusing McCain of wanting to cut guaranteed Social Security benefits in half.

As Marcos explains, this is quite the deception:

The Bush plan would have limited benefits for some workers to growing at the rate of inflation rather than at the generally faster pace of wages. In other words, these workers would be getting benefits equal in real dollar value to those received by current retirees. But under the “progressive price indexing” approach endorsed by the president, lower-income workers would continue to receive all their promised benefits; medium-income workers would have their benefits reduced somewhat; and high-income workers would take the biggest hit.

The Obama campaign stretches the truth beyond recognition when it says that this would cut benefits in half. Under progressive price indexing, the average-earning worker would see a 28 percent cut in promised benefits — in 2075. In other words, trims of that magnitude would affect workers not yet born. Today’s average-earning 25-year-old would experience much smaller reductions in promised benefits upon reaching retirement age — more like 16 percent.

And the only way the Obama campaign can inflate the supposed benefit cut to “half” is by assuming that the change in calculating benefit growth would be applied to all workers, not just the top tier. In that case, workers not yet born would get 49 percent of the benefits not yet promised to them by 2075.

So, on one side, we have McCain using silly math to claim Obama will raise taxes on the middle class while, on the other side, we have Obama using silly math to claim McCain wants to rip the Social Security safety net in half.

In a time when very real math is beating up our financial markets, it’s disheartening to see both candidates playing such games. But at least the Democrats no longer have to worry that their guy won’t take it to McCain.

Apparently, when it comes to the Democratic playbook on Social Security, offering hope and change doesn’t preclude running on fear and lies.