Social Security Administration dipping into politics, report says

House Democratic leaders released a report Monday charging the Bush administration with politicizing the Social Security Administration by working with the SSA to alter its message strategy to support Bush's agenda.

The report states that SSA has "markedly changed its communications to the public over the last four years," citing language and message changes in informational brochures, news releases, and a communications presentation provided to employees that have grown increasingly negative on the future of Social Security.

"Although the solvency of the Social Security system has improved over the last four years," the report states, "the public communications from the agency have grown more dire."

The report is based on a review of over 4,000 pages of agency documents from the past decade.

"The Bush administration must stop using the SSA as it tries to scare up support for privatizing Social Security," Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich, said in a statement. "The agency must reassert its independence and promote its goal -- professional, nonpartisan administration of the Social Security programs." At presstime, calls to the agency had not been returned.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, meanwhile, when asked whether President Bush would support new retirement accounts as an add-on to the Social Security system, pointed to Bush's openness to all ideas about changing Social Security, except for raising payroll tax rates.

But McClellan also noted that individuals already have the option of putting their savings into individual retirement accounts, and he reiterated Bush's commitment to his own proposal, which would use payroll taxes to fund retirement accounts.

And Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., launched a pre-emptive strike Monday against a public relations blitz Democrats are planning for next weekend, challenging Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to debate Social Security reform when Reid visits Phoenix as part of a four-state "fly around" planned by the Democratic leader.

In a letter to Reid, Kolbe, who has introduced Social Security legislation with Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., challenges the minority leader to debate the various reform proposals being floated on Capitol Hill, arguing that "is an issue of paramount importance to Americans; and as members of Congress, we have a responsibility to debate our views in public."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.