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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Children Selling Social Security Reform for President Bush

I hope there was an outpouring of public disgust over the recent use of innocent child labor to promote President Bush's ridiculous Social Security reform.

Since the President cannot sell this Social Security reform on his own and the US Congress is hiding from him out of fear of another political fiasco following the Terri Schiavo "death" incident, why not get desperate and resort to using children?

On the April 15, 2005, CBS Nightly News with Bob Sheieffer, a young boy is featured going to bat for President George Bush and Social Security reform consisting of privatization of federal withholdings to fund the retirement system. Young Noah McCullough has no business selling Social Security when he doesn't know the history of this program. Pure and simple, the United States government has an obligation to fund Social Security with help from withholding taxes from workers and employers.

Period.

Using a 10 year old boy to explain why Social Security reform is needed is like watching a replay of "Lord of the Flies". Let's just accelerate the process of turning the young against one another. By the way, let's also mock the old who are the cause of Social Security utilization in the first place.

Here is the CBS interview:

(CBS) At first glance Noah McCullough looks like any 10-year-old. Loves baseball. Hates girls. "It's just sick thinking about kissing and all that," he told CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod.

But talk to him a little longer. This is no average 10-year-old.

"I'm helping to educate people about President Bush's Social Security plan," said the member of Progress for America.

Noah is a point person for pro-Bush groups on Social Security, spending his spring break stumping for Social Security change.

"People keep saying there's no crisis. Well Bill Clinton said it -- and everybody said yes, it's a crisis. All the Democrats did. But when George W. Bush says it -- there isn't," Noah said. "I don't get it."

Never mind how much he really knows about the issue. A 10-year-old who can talk Social Security isn't a bad little weapon.

As for the Democrats, they're working the other end of the age spectrum: seniors. They get angry and they vote. Sixteen years ago when Congress changed their guaranteed benefits, they chased after congressmen and got the law repealed.

Meeting the 10-year-old novelty act's challenge on the other side is a 68-year-old retired prison guard.

"You worked in a prison?" asked Axelrod.

"Yup," she replied.

"How does this compare to your old line of work?"

"The battle's just as hard."

Gwendolyn Vaughn works the senior centers in New York City for AARP.

"You ever have trouble cutting through -- convincing seniors to see it your way," Axelrod wanted to know.

"Not so much seniors. Some," she said. "The problem mostly is their children, their grandchildren."

Which is why both sides are tilling some unfamiliar grass roots in this battle.

Democrats are working younger voters -- where pollsters have seen support for the president's personal savings accounts.

And the president? Well he's started campaigning with seniors on the stage to reassure those in the audience. But polls show the president's losing steam, which is why his youngest advocate is sounding a new note.

"I don't want it to be so partisan -- that a decision we have to make -- is not made because of partisanship," McCullough said.

Although so far, that's been lost on the grown-ups.

©MMV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There are child labor laws in the USA. Just because a 10 year old boy wants to be a spokesperson for President Bush's Social Security reform is no reason, whatsoever, why he should be allowed to do so. If children cannot solicit money for the Salvation Army at Christmas, then they should also be prohibited from soliciting support for the dismal response Americans are giving to President Bush's Social Security reforms - especially the privatization which can put the financial security net of old age into jeopardy.

If President Bush wants to sell his Social Security reform, he should do so by finding ways to bolster up young people's 401 K plans and by emphasizing the importance of a healthy stock market.

I'd like to see Noah McCullough pass a test about the history of Social Security. Can he answer questions about the impact Social Security had on helping old people out of destitute poverty, especially during the Great Depression and on how it has improved the quality of life for senior citizens? Were it not for Social Security, my sister, brother and I would have grown up in an orphanage or foster care. My mother was left a widow when I was 15 years old, my brother was 12 and my sister was 11 years old at the time. Social Security helped my mother to work while we three kids were in school. Moreover, the monthly allotment allowed her to continue to pay the mortgage on our modest Baltimore home so we didn't have to move out after my father died.

President Bush should be ashamed of using a 10 year old to talk, (albeit eloquently without using a script), about a program the Bush family will never need.