this is how it's done - abuse of democracy

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    Lautenberg Calls on Social Security Administration to Cease Telephone Propaganda Aimed at Scaring Seniors
    When Placed on Hold, Callers to SSA Forced to Listen to Political Messages

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) called on Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne B. Barnhart today to stop playing political messages to callers placed on hold in the Social Security's telephone system. As President Bush begins to sell his Social Security privatization plan with claims of a looming Social Security "crisis," the Social Security Administration is forcing callers to their 800 number to listen to inaccurate propaganda with a "crisis" spin such as:

    "Did you know that the 76-million strong baby boom generation will begin to retire in about ten years? When that happens, changes will need to be made to Social Security -- changes to make sure there's enough money to continue paying full benefits. And most experts agree, the sooner those changes are made, the less they are going to cost."

    In his letter to Commissioner Barnhart, Lautenberg wrote, "I strongly object to SSA's use of taxpayer dollars to promote a partisan political agenda, and ask that you remove these messages from your telephone lines."

    In the letter, Lautenberg points out that among the factual inaccuracies in these messages is the assertion that changes need to be made in ten years to ensure that Social Security has enough money to continue paying full benefits. Lautenberg pointed out that the Bush administration itself concedes that such funds are sufficient to pay full benefits through 2042. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the system will be solvent even longer -- until 2053.

    "These messages are inappropriate political propaganda, and I ask that you remove them from your system immediately," wrote Lautenberg to the Commissioner of SSA.

    A recording of the propaganda messages can be heard by calling 1-800-772-1213, then press 1 for English, and then the number 3 and finally 0 where you listen to these messages while waiting for a customer service representative.
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