In light of payola scandals with Journalists lately, and some comments made by some at the Social Security Administration, some Congressional Democrats are pushing for an investigation to see if the Bush Administration is urging the SSA to push Bush’s radical privatization agenda.

It has been mentioned at several staff meetings at the Social Security Administration that government officials and staff are to “push” the privatization plan. If this is the case, it’s yet another ethics problem for this President, as well as possibly illegal.

Article archived here.

Posted on Sat, Jan. 29, 2005

Demos ask for probe over Social Security
By Charles Babington
Washington Post

WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats on Friday called on the Bush administration to refrain from using federal agencies and resources to promote the president’s bid to change Social Security, part of an increasingly sharp Democratic attack on his proposal.

Several Democratic senators asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate what they called the illegal use of taxpayer funds to tout President Bush’s plan to partially privatize Social Security. They cited, among other things, a Social Security Administration “communications/marketing tactical plan,” which they said improperly instructs civil servants to push the politically controversial plan.

“The president cannot turn the Social Security Administration into his own lobby shop,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said at a three-hour Capitol Hill hearing run by Democratic senators opposing the White House plan.

The hearing featured two Social Security Administration employees who said the agency’s marketing plan inappropriately calls on workers to publicly promote Bush’s goals.

“That is a political message, and it’s not my job as an agency employee to project a political message,” said Debbie Fredericksen, a Minneapolis-based employee.

Steve Kofahl, a Social Security claims representative from Seattle who addressed the all-Democrat panel, said SSA employees have been told that Social Security is in a crisis that only private accounts can salvage. He said the employees “have been directed to share this message with the public at every opportunity.”

“I do not believe it is proper for public funds or public employees to be used to stir up fear” and push the White House agenda, Kofahl said.

Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart said in a statement, “I have never, nor will I ever, ask or direct Social Security employees to promote or advance any specific proposal for Social Security reform.”

By walterh

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