There was a remarkable exchange during President Bush’s meticulously choreographed townhall meeting in Alabama yesterday. One of the people selected to speak with Bush was a woman named Sarah Garrison Webster. It’s clear that she was chosen because she is a federal employee who is eligible for the federal Thrift Savings Plan, a program that gives federal employees the option of putting some of their retirement money into stocks. Ms. Webster was supposed to be Exhibit A on how much people love to invest their retirement money in stock funds. It didn’t go exactly according to plan:
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you something about the Thrift Savings Plan. This is a Thrift Savings Plan that has a mix of stocks and bonds?
MS. WEBSTER: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, how hard was that to learn how to do that?
MS. WEBSTER: And I chose the safe plan, government bonds. (Laughter.)
In other words, Ms. Webster has no interest in risking her retirement money in the stock market. Bush’s privatization plan is so unpopular now, he can’t even find ringers who are interested.