George Bush's Social Security Snow job

Published February 9, 2005 9:04PM (EST)

When George W. Bush was asked over the weekend how his plan for private investment accounts would strengthen the long-term fiscal health of Social Security, he gave an answer that started with "Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers," and ended with Bush promising to "keep working on it."

Bush's treasury secretary has now said what the president's stumbling made obvious. When pressed to provide details about the president's plan to shore up Social Security's fiscal health, John Snow said Tuesday: "The president at this point doesn't have a plan."

It wasn't the only time that Snow seemed to veer from White House talking points Tuesday. While the White House isn't calling the Social Security situation a "crisis" anymore, the president can't seem to open his mouth without warning that Social Security is going to be "bankrupt" in 2042. Snow seems to disagree with that characterization, too. "There is a major difference between not being fully funded and being bankrupt," Snow told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday. Perhaps he should tell the president.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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