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The president of fabricated crises

By Aldanatech ·
Some presidents make the history books by managing crises. Lincoln had Fort Sumter, Roosevelt had the Depression and Pearl Harbor, and Kennedy had the missiles in Cuba. George W. Bush, of course, had Sept. 11, and for a while thereafter (through the overthrow of the Taliban) he earned his page in history, too.

But when historians look back at the Bush presidency, they're more likely to note that what sets Bush apart is not the crises he managed but the crises he fabricated. The fabricated crisis is the hallmark of the Bush presidency. To attain goals that he had set for himself before he took office (the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the privatization of Social Security) he concocted crises where there were none.

So Iraq became a clear and present danger to American hearths and homes, bristling with weapons of mass destruction, a nuclear attack just waiting to happen. And now, this week, the president is embarking on his second great scare campaign, this one to convince the American people that Social Security will collapse and that the only remedy is to cut benefits and redirect resources into private accounts.

In fact, Social Security is on a sounder footing now than it has been for most of its 70-year history. Without altering any of its particulars, its trustees say, it can pay full benefits straight through 2042. Over the next 75 years its shortfall will amount to just 0.7% of national income, according to the trustees, or 0.4%, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That still amounts to a real chunk of change, but it pales alongside the 75-year cost of Bush's Medicare drug benefit, which is more than twice its size, or Bush's tax cuts if permanently extended, which would be nearly four times its size.

In short, Social Security is not facing a financial crisis at all. It is facing a need for some distinctly sub-cataclysmic adjustments over the next few decades that would increase its revenue and diminish its benefits.

Politically, however, Social Security is facing the gravest crisis it has ever known. For the first time in its history, it is confronted by a president, and just possibly by a working congressional majority, who are opposed to the program on ideological grounds, who view the New Deal as a repealable aberration in U.S. history, who would have voted against establishing the program had they been in Congress in 1935. But Bush doesn't need Karl Rove's counsel to know that repealing Social Security for reasons of ideology is a non-starter.

So it's time once more to fabricate a crisis. In Bushland, it's always time to fabricate a crisis. We have a crisis in medical malpractice costs, though the CBO says that malpractice costs amount to less than 2% of total health care costs. In fact, what we have is a president who wants to diminish the financial, and thus political, clout of trial lawyers. We have a crisis in judicial vacancies, though in fact Senate Democrats used the filibuster to block just 10 of Bush's 229 first-term judicial appointments.

With crisis concoction as its central task (think of how many administration officials issued dire warnings of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein or, now, by Social Security's impending bankruptcy) this presidency, more than any I can think of, has relied on the classic tools of propaganda. Indeed, it's almost impossible to imagine the Bush presidency absent the Fox News Network and right-wing talk radio.

With the blurring of fact and fiction so central to the Bush presidency's purposes, is it any wonder that government agencies ranging from Health and Human Services to the Office of National Drug Control Policy have been filming editorial messages as mock newscast segments, complete with mock reporters, and offering them to local television stations?

Is it any wonder that the Education Department paid commentator Armstrong Williams $241,000 to promote its No Child Left Behind programs? In this administration, it is the role of a government agency to turn out pro-Bush news by whatever means possible. Fox News viewership in the African American community wasn't very large, and here was Williams, who seemed to have learned during his clerkship for Clarence Thomas that it was rude to decline any gifts.

We've had plenty of presidents, Richard Nixon most notoriously, who divided the media into friendly and enemy camps. I can't think of one, however, so fundamentally invested in the spread of disinformation (and so fundamentally indifferent to the corrosive effect of propaganda on democracy) as Bush. That, too, should earn him a page in the history books. Would you agree?

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You live in the US though

by Oz_Media In reply to Except...

Extended medical is practically a given in Canada.

Plus Julian was referring to someone specific, I answered as if the case applied to me. Even under contract working from home, I demand extended medical benefits in the contract.

I once had a salaried contract where I took Friday's off to go camping in through the summer.

Setting up your employment conrtract is a sales job too, even if the position is identical to others in the company, you can usually renegotiate terms. Many people (not neccessarily your husband) just don't try and take what the employer says the job provides.

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Pssst !

by jardinier In reply to You live in the US though

Don't give away secrets like that, Oz, or you will have a flood of Americans wanting to migrate to Canada.

Incidentlly I have a friend in New Jersey who works for the government (the military actually).

ALL her health costs, including dental, are covered by her employer.

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Obviously totally different systems

by jardinier In reply to sorry julian

To the best of my knowledge (and bearing in mind that I have worked in several large organisations including the Public Service) there is no such thing as "company's extended medical benefits" in Australia.

Of course there is Worker's Compensation if you are injured or incapacitated on the job, but it usually takes yonks before you get your money from the courts.

In Australia, if you don't take out private insurance for possible loss of earning ability (and I don't personally know of anyone who has done this) you are solely dependent on the DSS for sickness benefits, unemployment benefits and various versions of the pension: Diability Pension; Carer's Pension (if you have to stay home and care for a sick person); Widow's Pension (which also applies to divorced women until such time as they may remarry); Unmarried Mother's Pension.

I suspect that some members of this website have a distorted view of the needs of people who depend on social security, because they are used to earning very high wages.

From some of the figures I have seen tossed around on this website, a senior IT Pro would earn twice as much as a senior journalist would in Australia.

I have seen yourself mention a figure which you would expect to earn, that is in a totally different bracket to what I could ever have earned if my health had not prevented me from dropping out of full-time journalism.

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Pay is relative

by Oz_Media In reply to Obviously totally differe ...

In England I would only earn two thirds of my Canadian income, about the same as if I worked in the US. But the economy's are different so it is all relative really, just as it would be compared to Australia.

As for extended medical, we do get Workers Comp. and permanent disability from the government, but as you say AGES in waiting.

Extended medical has replaced many employers offering basic medical. Basic is so cheap here (yet expensive fo remployers) that they drop basic medical and offer and extended (private) plan. If I had strep throat and needed tonsils removed, basic medical pays my medical costs, extended medical pays for my time off work.

When I had my accident and was in a coma, I was covcered by basic for hospitalization and extended for missing work. After that I still sued the other driver (ichmond Fire Department)for their role in the whole mess.

The extended funds pour in real fast, I had three cheques at home before leaving the hospital (7 weeks).

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Charity, Social Security and Wages

by jardinier In reply to Obviously totally differe ...

Well my friend. It seems you have a real bee in your bonnet, or chip on your shoulder in these areas.

What precisely is your problem?

Are you feeling guilty of your very self-indulgent lifestyle?

Or perhaps you have trodden on other people to get where you are.

You are beginning to irritate me with your very personal postings directed at me.

Please cool it, or I will be tempted to make a posting that will really p*ss you off.

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God save America

by jardinier In reply to The president of fabricat ...

I dislike the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, largely because of many local issues which would mean nothing to an outsider.

We are stuck with him for at least another three years. AND he has control of both houses of parliament.

You are stuck with Bush for a guaranteed four years. I shudder to think what damage he may do to the USA during that time, based on his record to date.

And yes Oz, I agree with you. He is a puppet president. I daresay he understands his PERSONAL agenda, but I doubt very much if he knows how to run a country.

I am sure glad I live where I do.

And by the way: I am not anti-America or anti-Americans -- I just think you have a lousy president.

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Whoops !

by jardinier In reply to The president of fabricat ...

Accidental double posting.

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Whoops ! number 2.

by jardinier In reply to The president of fabricat ...

Acccidental triple posting.

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Plagiarism is not very nice

by maxwell edison In reply to The president of fabricat ...

Credit for the article should have been given to Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large of The American Prospect.

This column originally appeared in The Washington Post.

Copyright ? 2005 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: Harold Meyerson, "President of Fabricated Crises", The American Prospect Online, Jan 13, 2005. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to

The article has been circulating among Democrat underground sites and blogs.

Harold Meyerson was "disappointed" that the Democrats lost the 2004 election:

Harold Meyerson believes that the Republican Party is "a haven for bigots".

Harold Meyerson has always been anti-Bush and anti-(free) Iraq, pro-Democrat and an admitted flaming liberal:

So take anything Harold Meyerson has to say through the filter of his admitted bias.

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not as bad as us

by rob_serve In reply to The president of fabricat ...

its true that the white house has become a joke, but not as bad as over here! tony is the puppy of bush and he and bush dont seem to care that they were elected to serve their country, not the rest of the world. Everywhere this twosome goes havock is reaked and nothing good seems to come out of it.
Afghanistan, Iraq and then Korea as they gradually learn the new letters of the alphabet, one step at a time.

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