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« Reform Thursday: Social Security- Chart Four. | WILLisms.com | Euro-Bush: Well, It Was Real, It Was Fun. But Was It Real Fun? »

Rock The Vote + AARP = WAY LAME.

In a previous post, WILLisms.com noted that Rock the Vote has gone off the deep end, deviating far from its "non-partisan" status, becoming a mouthpiece for the far-left wing of the DNC, teaming up with other left-wing groups to maximize their power. They have dropped all pretense of open-mindedness, all illusion of fairness to both sides.

For example, Rock the Vote is single-mindedly and persistently trying to scare young people about a draft:


Before the election, Rock the Vote sent an email out to all of its email subscribers, telling them if they didn't vote the right way, they would be drafted. This had a clear and powerful effect on the youth vote, which had been trending toward Republicans, whipping people up into a panic over nothing.

Rock the Vote also has links on its website to This Is Rumor Control blog and Alliance for Security, two obviously affiliated far-left groups (although it is hard to tell just how they are organized).

Rock the Vote is even selling these t-shirts on his website:


If Rock the Vote really loved Social Security, they would not oppose reforming it. Keeping Social Security as-is is not even an option, as that would require massive benefit cuts and/or massive tax increases, guaranteed, down the line. Here is just one glorious example of Rock the Vote ridiculousness, completely misrepresenting the plan, from a post called "A solution that is worse than the problem" (are they now at least acknowledging there is a problem?):

"Proponents of the plan would be quick to retort that in exchange for reduced traditional Social Security benefits, privatized personal accounts will be available to supplement.

This sounds good in theory. The stock market gets great returns, right? Of course it does.

Unless the stock market crashes. But, how often does that happen? We haven’t had a recession in three years!

Or unless you make a bad investment. But, that would never happen to us - we have learned a lot from Giovanni Ribisi in 'Boiler Room' and Michael Douglas in 'Wall Street.'"


The inane movie references aside, this just distorts the facts so profoundly, probably on purpose. The personal retirement accounts would not resemble anything from the scenarios in Boiler Room or Wall Street. The accounts would resemble the Thrift Savings Plan accounts available to employees of the federal government (such as, member of Congress), which, even when losing money temporarily through recessions, over a ten-year period deliver, at worst, 5.45% rates of annual compounded interest (the "C" and "S" funds in the TSP offer nearly 12% returns).

Plus, unlike the movies cited by Rock the Vote, there would be no chance that an individual could throw his money after some zany stock idea and lose it all. None. The plans would be highly diversified, not tied to individual stocks (or even individual sectors). Temporary stock market downturns, temporary recessions, these things would have no bearing on the personal retirement accounts, which are in it for the long haul. Over the long run (let's call it 30 years), the market is always up, even through the period of the Great Depression.

The latest nonsense from Rock the Vote is the peddling of disingenuous polling data to try to create a false bandwagon effect, where otherwise disengaged people flock to the winning position. Rock the Vote, through the use of push-polling (an unethical and widely condemned practice of manipulation, or "rigging"), is trying to suggest that young people actually do not favor reform of Social Security afterall. Rock the Vote also uses anyone under 40 as its "youth" cohort, also deceptive.

Is it merely a coincidence that AARP, a group recently exposed (here and here) for peddling disingenuous polling data, has just recently joined forces with Rock the Vote? Is that merely suspicious, or are they operating from the same playbook?

Adam Doverspike, of Social Security Choice, explains:

"Rock The Vote, ostensibly a youth organization, has teamed up with AARP to oppose meaningful Social Security reform. The recently conducted a push poll that was meant to show youth opposed to PRAs. This contradicts most independent polling on the subject that shows big rifts between the old and the young on PRAs. Mr. Hederman of the Heritage Foundation disects the push poll technique used in this specific poll."

The Heritage Foundation goes into greater detail:

"Push-polling is the intellectually dishonest practice of conducting a survey in a way designed to produce a pre-determined result. Such polls follow up a neutrally worded question with more 'questions' that provide new information. The added information presents only one side of an argument and is designed to 'coach' or 'push' the respondent into giving the desired answer....

Luckily, AARP and RTV had been prescient enough to foresee that the vast majority of younger workers would support personal accounts. (It’s what legitimate surveys have been finding for years.)

Consequently, the survey itself proceeded to supply the necessary 'nuance' by posing nine follow-up questions for the 198 lost young souls who dared embrace the concept of personal retirement accounts. 'Would you still favor' reform if it meant:

— creating a new government agency?

— massive new federal debt?

— requiring 'additional help from government'?

The barrage of unattractive hypotheticals ran on and on. This isn’t polling. This is a lecture from an overeager high school guidance counselor. Why not just ask us if we would prefer privatization if we had to eat cat food in our retirement? If we’d be forced to listen to Milli Vanilli? If advocates of personal accounts would come to our houses, kick our dogs and erase our iPods?"

The Heritage article points out the notable absence of any information about what would happen to Social Security without any action. Interestingly enough, support for Social Security reform in the Rock the Vote poll was pretty durable, withstanding the barrage:

"...despite these loaded questions, a plurality of the Rock the Vote cohort still believed that investing in private equities is good for Social Security. Forty-seven percent of the 18-39 cohort responded that Social Security would be strengthened with the ability to invest part of our payroll taxes in the stock market. And half of the RTV cohort believes that investing in a private account would make up for benefits cuts. And this is after being told that private accounts are the financial equivalent of the 10 plagues....

Because of its maniacally manipulative methodology, the AARP/RTV survey can tell us nothing reliable about what Americans think about Social Security. But it speaks volumes about the sponsors. Neither AARP nor RTV wants to hear what their constituents think. Both groups are far more interested in telling their constituents what they should think — whether they like it or not."



National Review (via Social Security Choice) has more:

"Hans Reimer says he wants Rock the Vote to become the 'AARP of our Generation.' Young Americans... deserve better."

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 February 2005 06:31 PM