Democrats & Liberals Archives

The 'Future Of Social Security' Focus Group

It’s interesting, that just today I happened to see my first commercial from one of the Conservative groups (Progress For America) footing the bill for Bush’s Social Security propaganda campaign (incidentally, it was during CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Reports). In my opinion, it captures perfectly why the distortions and manufactured crisis by the administration and The Right are not the only major flaws in the President’s plan.

It's obvious that the natural constituents for this plan - those that benefit the most, therefore the probable focus of a PR offensive - are young adults. That aim, not surprisingly, is the major emphasis of the :30 second spot, from soft peddled scare tactic opening to emphatic plea to be forward thinking and responsible.

The attempt would be pitiful, if it weren't so damn funny.

The spot, entitled 'Courage', caused me to immediately recall previous attempts by the Bush administration to influence the youth of America. There was a time in this country when it would be inconceivable to think an anti-drug, public service television commercial message could be roundly criticized as baseless and politically motivated propaganda - but of course, that was before the Bush administration. The widely condemned spots linking drugs with terror eventually were dropped, but not after strong suggestions that the ads may have contributed to youngsters experimenting with marijuana.

What baffles me at this point is determining whether the White House's Social Security overhaul PR offensive, is greatly dependent upon mobilizing the 18-30 adult segment of the population to actually call their elected representatives in Congress?

We do know that not many of them will be tuning into Wolf Blitzer. So, it would be interesting to find out if MTV, or maybe even Comedy Central's The Daily Show, might be prospective programs for an ad buy. I could not find such information on the group's sparse website, but with reportedly $9 million dollars put aside to support the President's plan (a fraction of the overall budget), MTV2 could suddenly be transformed into Battleground State TV!

Of course, when you think of the 'third rail politics' that is Social Security, you immediately think senior citizens. However, as you watch the commercial, there is no need to consider the image placement of loving grandparents as anything more than just empathetic icons. Don't believe me? Then, just ask the AARP!

Reading an entire page of the powerful seniors group's website devoted to the current Social Security debate, you get the sense of 'fool me once on Medicare Prescription Drugs, shame on me...' Here's the reason why so many Republicans in Congress have already voiced alarm over the President's stated plan, which then prompted those with skeptical raised eyebrows to suggest that the compromise plan all along was to whittle opposition down to what the White House really wants - private accounts.

Yet, look again at who is funding Bush's advertising budget - National Chambers of Commerce, National Organization of Manufacturers, and The Club For Growth. These guys are not shelling out this kind of dough, unless the prospectus guaranteed the elimination of a costly 'entitlement program', and relief from these growth killing, unfair labor costs injurious to 'American small businesses'.

If the fight then for the White House is all or nothing, the TV ad fails them on another crucial count. The President must address the hostile concerns of seniors and counter the fears of wary Baby Boomers - or at least neutralize their impact. Unfortunately, by ignoring them, they'll then turn to other sources for clarity. By 'educating' them, your only hope is that the cable news networks are their only source for news and information.

As we've seen too many times before, the American people are currently saying all the right things in unambiguous resistance to Bush's Social Security plan. When presented with viable, simple alternatives (that are not new) to help insure its solvency for future generations, in comparison, the Bush plan is exposed as the convoluted boondoggle it clearly is - with the $4 Trillion dollar price tag.

But, what I'll be watching for in the Social Security debate (and from the outcome of the Jan 30 Iraqi elections) is whether the American people will finally reach their threshold of outrage. So disturbed by now unacceptable events, wil they at last acknowledge their culpability and shake themselves from a long infallible indifference?

As far as answering that question right now, unfortunately, my research data is inconclusive.

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at January 23, 2005 1:57 AM