I was just forwarded an interesting e-mail about 'Social Security Changes' that you might want to be aware of if you happen to be on the receiving end of an occasional chain e-mail. This one begins pretty benignly, but it gets pretty worked up by the end:
Just in case some of you young whippersnappers (& some older ones) didn't know this. Be sure and show it to your kids. They need a little history lesson on what's what.And it doesn't matter whether you are Democrat of Republican. Facts are facts!!!
The problem is, what follows that intro is a diatribe that offers very few facts while trying to pin a number of egregious "changes" to Social Security on "Democrats" when -- at least according to this article at Snopes.com, the keepers of urban legends on the Internet -- few of those "changes" ever took place.
Here are some quotes:
1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary.
Not true; while certain segments of the working population have been added over time, the program is not voluntary for covered industries.
2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program,
Not true; the first year, 1% of up to $3,000 income was the magic number, but it was designed to escalate to 3% over the next six year.
3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,
It was specifically not deductible in the Social Security Act of 1935.
4.) That the money the participants put into the Independent 'Trust Fund' rather than into the General Operating Fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other government program, and,
This one is more complex. It's technically true that Social Security remains in a special Trust Fund, but that Trust Fund is invested in U.S. securities (bonds and so on) that can then be used for running up the national debt. Social Security contributions are not, however, placed in the General Operating Fund.
5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.
Snopes notes that there was no explicit "promise" by FDR that this would be the case, but it was true for many years based on Treasury Department rulings in the 1930s.
Even more interesting is that the e-mail then doubles back and blames most of those items on -- wait for it -- Democrats, who supposed made each of those steps happen (even when the steps themselves aren't remotely accurate).
The final one:
Q: Which political party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?
AND MY FAVORITE:
A: That's right!
Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, they began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them even though they never paid a dime into it!
Damning stuff, eh? Too bad it isn't remotely true, according to Snopes:
No one whether he be a citizen, immigrant, or illegal alien is eligible to collect Social Security benefits unless he (or someone else, such as a parent or spouse) has paid into the system. Someone has confused Social Security itself with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the latter is a federal welfare program "designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income" by providing "cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter." Immigrants can qualify for SSI benefits under certain conditions, but SSI is financed by general revenues and not Social Security taxes. SSI was not enacted by the administration of President Jimmy Carter (a Democrat); it was created and signed into law in 1972, during the administration of President Richard Nixon (a Republican).
Which all sorta brings the authors motives into plainer view, eh?
The lies going around are unbelievable—to the racism behind the Community Redevelopment Act rumor to this. People, Google these things. Go to Snopes.
(Reminds me of the guy who came on here and linked to the list of lies about Obama that Snopes was debunking—as if they were true. Sigh.)
I suspect that we'll see a lot more of these between now and Election Day.