An interesting contrast

Prof. DeLong notices the President's Council of Economic Advisers trying to be honest about social security, while Mark Kleinman notices the treasury secretary showing a complete disregard for the truth.

From Kleinman:
As part of the effort to sell his plan, President Bush, who doesn't like to "fine-tune [his] messages based upon polls," has begun referring only to "personal accounts," because it "polls better than the phrase 'private accounts.'" Yesterday, during "Ask the White House" with Treasury Secretary John Snow, Jim from Colorado Springs took a ThinkProgress reader's advice and asked, "What is the difference between the personal account now proposed by President Bush and private accounts he was talking about a month ago?" Snow responded, "The President has always referred to personal accounts, but some often mischaracterize them as 'private accounts.'" By Snow's analysis, Bush and his top aides have "mischaracterized" the president's plan several times. Here's our favorite, via Talking Points Memo, from a Bush-Cheney '04 rally last September: "I believe younger workers ought to be able to take some of their own money, set aside a personal savings account that will help Social Security fulfill its promise, a private account that they can call their own, a private account they can pass on to the next generation and a private account that Government can't take away."

What's really scary is not so much that we're ruled by such a bunch of shameless liars, but that we're ruled by a bunch of shameless liars who clearly believe -- correctly, to date -- that they can get away with this sort of crap.

While DeLong says:

The President's Council of Economic Advisors is ordered to write that faster productivity growth will not improve the outlook for Social Security. And they do what they are told:

...While [faster] economic growth makes it easier to sustain some government spending programs, this does not apply to Social Security... (Council of Economic Advisors, "Three Questions About Social Security," February 4, 2005.)

But they engage in a form of passive resistance to the demands of their political masters. For three paragraphs further down, the CEA writes that:

Simulations in the [2004] Report [of the Social Security Trustees] indicate that an 0.5 percentage point increase in real wage growth would improve the 75-year actuarial balance... mean a 75-year deficit of 1.35... instead of... 1.89 percent of taxable payroll.... The date of Trust Fund exhaustion would be pushed back from 2042 to 2048.

On the normal definition of "easier to sustain," pushing back the date of required benefit cuts or tax increases by six years and reducing the long-run deficit by 0.54 percent of taxable payroll would qualify as making Social Security "easier to sustain."