When radio host Michael Medved challenged Rock the Vote Washington director Hans Riemer's use of the term "privatization" to describe President Bush's proposed changes to Social Security, Riemer confronted Medved with a quotation of Bush describing his proposed private accounts as "privatization." Yet Medved insisted that the claim that Bush supports privatization is "a bloody lie" and challenged Riemer to name a single U.S. politician who said he wanted to "get rid of Social Security." When Riemer presented a November 11, 2000, quote from Rep. Chris Chocola (R-IN), who said he would "like to see the entire system privatized," Medved responded: "I'm not even sure he is a member of Congress." Chocola was elected to Congress in 2002.
From the May 11 edition of The Michael Medved Show:
MEDVED: Fourty-four minutes past the hour on The Michael Medved Show. My question for our guest Hans Riemer. He is with the "I Heart Social Security" campaign of Rock the Vote. It's sort of an alliance of slackers and geezers to try to make sure that we continue bankrupting the country to pay very high and continually rising Social Security benefits. Given the fact that in really a couple years -- we're talking about seven years, it could be that soon -- we will be paying out more in benefits than we are taking in in payroll taxes, where is -- how are you going to continue paying people these promised benefits without either raising the payroll tax or taking more money out of general revenues?
RIEMER: Let me answer that question. But I'd like to just go back to something earlier -- you said that I offered a lie on something. I wanted to read you a quote from the president of the United States. It was reported in ABC News on October 30, 2002: "What privatization does is allows the individual worker his or her choice to set aside money in a managed account with parameters in the marketplace." Now, you accused me of lying for calling that privatization. I don't think that's fair.
MEDVED: No, no, I accused you of lying by saying -- now, if you want to bring it back up again, this doesn't make you look good, sir. What you wrote is: "There are some politicians who want to phase Social Security out." President Bush -- let us acknowledge this, please -- he has never said "I want to get rid of Social Security." He has never said they don't think we should have a Social Security program at all --
RIEMER: But he favors privatization. Would you agree with that?
MEDVED: No! Absolutely not!
RIEMER: Alright, so the quote --
MEDVED: This is a bloody lie! What he was doing is he was not saying --
RIEMER: No -- I am lying now, okay.
MEDVED: Hold on. Hold on.
RIEMER: So even though the president of the United States said, "What privatization does is allows the individual worker his or her choice to set aside money in a managed account with parameters in the marketplace," when I call that privatization, I'm lying?
MEDVED: No -- first of all, you said he favors privatization. He was simply defining privatization there.
RIEMER: Which he favors.
MEDVED: He -- where does he ever say that "I favor privatization"?
RIEMER: His plan allows the individual worker --
MEDVED: What we are talking about, personal, voluntary personal --
RIEMER: -- his or her choice to set aside money in a managed account with parameters in the marketplace. That's the definition of his plan.
MEDVED: You know, words sometimes mean something, sir. Private -- managed voluntary personal accounts, optional personal accounts, is not what people call privatization.
RIEMER: That's what the president called privatization.
MEDVED: Well, it's unclear with what you just read.
RIEMER: I think it's crystal clear! "What privatization does is allows the individual worker his or her choice to set aside money in a managed account with parameters in the marketplace." What could be clearer than that?
MEDVED: All right, first of all, it is clearly not privatization if what you are doing is allowing people to take one-third of the total money they put in. Privatization usually means that, okay, all of a sudden the government doesn't owe you anything anymore, you're going to take care of yourself. And that's not -- that what they -- for instance, like the system they have in Chile. That is not the system that President Bush has proposed, and there is not a single American politician -- and you wouldn't even dare try to name one -- there's not even one politician who has said, "We want to get rid of Social Security."
RIEMER: Well, here's one politician who said this: "Bush's plan of individual investment of 2 percent of the money is a start. Eventually, I'd like to see the entire system privatized."
MEDVED: And who said --
RIEMER: That was Chris Chocola.
RIEMER: Chris Chocola.
MEDVED: Who is that?
RIEMER: Member of Congress from Indiana.
MEDVED: Chris what?
RIEMER: Chocola, C-O -- C-H-O-C-O-L-A.
MEDVED: Okay, I don't know that particular member of Congress, I'm not even sure he is a member of Congress.
RIEMER: Oh, gosh, give me a break, Michael.
MEDVED: If that's the best you can do --
RIEMER: You're going to dispute that this guy is a member of Congress? I mean, what kind of stuff are you pushing here?
MEDVED: Okay, if that's the best you can do --
RIEMER: That was just exactly what you asked me to do! I'm just coming back to you with a fact.