News Intelligence Analysis
Highlights of the GOPs Strategy to Convince America
to End Social Security
Link to the White House Guide to Social Security Reform: PDF File
By Katherine Yurica
February 24, 2005
Its called, A Guide to Social Security Reform, and its title is Saving Social Security. It was written courtesy of the White House Office of Communications. House Republican Conference Chairman, Deborah Pryce and Senate Republican Conference Chairman, Rick Santorum signed off on it. Its purpose? To teach the GOP senators and representatives how to sell a program that is designed to be the first step in destroying Social Security.
It is key to teach your constituents that Social Security is hurting, but the way in which you go about communicating the problem and the need for reform is critical.
The White House must have hired psychologists to analyze and test the selling of the program, because the 103 page report starts out with a Dos and Donts page with the admission, A number of messaging techniques have already been tested in the field, feel free to follow them!
The key recommendations include a revision of their own word, privatization. The report advises congressional leaders to use the word, personalization not privatization. Privatization connotes the total corporate takeover of Social Security and thoroughly turns off listeners, who are very concerned about corporate wrongdoing.
Next, the GOP sellers of the program are advised to Talk in simple language. Your audience doesnt understand financial jargon. Phrases such as cash flow deficits and actuarial imbalance dont normally crop up in conversation; avoid using them.
The White House must have discovered their constituents are ignorant because they advise, Your audience doesnt know how trillions and billions differ. They know these numbers are large, but not how large nor how many billions make a trillion.
What can the poor GOP seller do? The White House experts say, Boil numbers down to your familys share. Also avoid percentages; your audience will try to calculate them in their headno easy task while listening to a speechand many will do it incorrectly.
Oh, dear, you poor ignorant Americans! Its really tough being the Commander in Chief when ones constituents are so dumb!
The White House says, Many of your listeners will not have a lot of financial education or investment experience, but they know that markets have riskand nothing is guaranteed. They also know they can lose their investments. They dont trust someone who tells them differently. So youd better agree that theres risks!
The White House admits, To most Americans building wealth sounds unattainableespecially in the context of Social Security. What does one say then? But on the other hand, putting aside a nest egg sounds like common sense.
Do a little razzle dazzle with numbers, they like that: Cite the ratios of 16 to 1 in 1950, down to 3.3 to 1 today, and falling to 2 to 1 in 25 years. Tell them, The number of workers has been rising since the 1950s, but the number of retirees has been increasing even faster. (Thatll scare em real good!)
Whatever you do, Dont say, Social Security lifts seniors out of poverty: People dont appreciate all that Social Security does, and believe that despite the program, many seniors are still in poverty. Instead, talk about how Social Security is a floor of protection that keep seniors out of the most dire circumstances.
The White House wisely says, Your audience is skeptical of things that sound perfect or too pat. People know what they know and youll be hard pressed to shake them out of strongly held, erroneous beliefs. Dont get side-tracked trying to set the record straight. Stay focused!
Whoa-eee, this White House has the wisdom of Solomon! Your audience will have concerns that weigh heavily on their minds. However, you need to know that these concerns do not stand in the way of their support for the personal account reform. Folks have genuine doubts that the money in a personal account will be theirs to keep. Despite this, they still feel personal accounts are safer than the current system. You sellers have got to keep that in mind!
And another thing, one of the blasted problems about Americans is they are altruistically, minded! Americans want to hear how people without financial savvy will be protected and educated in a system of personal accounts. They feel it is important that those others are taken care of. Not to worry, our testing shows that underneath it all, They favor personal accounts over the current system.
Now there are special problems for those over 50. So the best thing to do is Start out be asking the audience how many of them think that over the next 50 years the U.S. economy will grow at least as fast as it did during the past 50. Expect those who raise their hands to end up agreeing with you on personal accounts!
Balance family interest with self-interest: Explain that this reform will help peoples children and grandchildren be more secure, while protecting their own benefits for the rest of their lives.
Appeal to their sense of legacy: Quote theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffoer: The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world it leaves to its children. Almost everyone embraces this notion!
Offer an alternate reality: Talk about how much more money theyd have for retirement if they themselves had been investing in a personal account all these years. Add that personal accounts would enable young, minimum-wage workers to enjoy dignity in retirement.
Yep, the White House is talking alternate reality again. Its a reality so alternate that no one has ever even seen it! You see, the White House has never learned: theres only one reality. Websters Third New International Dictionary says, (not that I would ever want to contradict the White House), but reality is the aggregate of real things; the actual state of things; what actually exists: what has objective existence: what is not a mere idea: what is not imaginary, fictitious, or pretended. I think most Americans have a better handle on reality than the White House does.
Katherine Yurica is a news intelligence analyst. She was educated at East Los Angeles College, the University of Southern California and the USC school of law. She worked as a consultant for Los Angeles County and as a news correspondent for Christianity Today plus as a freelance investigative reporter. She is the author of three books. She is also the publisher of the Yurica Report.
Send a letter
to the editor
about this article
Back to The Yurica Report Home Page Copyright © 2004 Yurica Report. All rights reserved.