Unfairly Balanced

An article in this morning’s Washington Post — headlined “Partisan Social Security Claims Questioned” — makes one of the mainstream media’s favorite arguments: both sides are wrong. The piece reviews the arguments made by Bush and his opponents about Social Security privatization and asserts that both sides are making arguments that are “flawed.”

It’s a convenient journalistic formula but the article fails to back it up.

The article addresses only two claims made by opponents of privatization. First, it examines the claim made by Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) that Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security would cost “$4.9 trillion over a 20 year period starting in 2009.” The article claims that Cheney’s estimate that private accounts would cost “trillions of dollars” is “probably the most honest” because these things are hard to predict. Of course, Cheney’s estimate is not in conflict with Reid’s claim.

Second, the piece examines the claim by opponents that privatization “would benefit Wall Street.” The article doesn’t even attempt to dispute this claim. It merely notes that Bush’s plan aims to “hold down administrative costs” that would go to Wall Street and quotes a budget expert saying he didn’t think the fees would be so high that Wall Street “would salivate.”

Meanwhile, the article reveals serious flaws in claims being advanced by Bush to support the plan: that Social Security is going bankrupt, that private accounts would offer greater returns and that private accounts offer individuals greater freedom.

The liberal media strikes again.