Whopper of the Week: National Republican Congressional Committee

Who said anything about privatizing Social Security?

” ‘Privatization’ is a false and misleading word insofar as it is being used by Democrats to describe Republican positions on Social Security. … It is very important that we not allow reporters to shill for Democrat demagoguery by inaccurately characterizing ‘personal accounts’ and ‘privatization’ as one in the same.”

Aug. 26 memo to GOP candidates from Steve Schmidt, communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Carl Forti, NRCC’s deputy communications director.

“The simple truth is that ‘privatization’ has always been the word Republicans themselves used to describe their policy. That is, it was until they rather belatedly realized that their policy was killing them with voters.”

Joshua Micah Marshall, Sept. 5, on his political Weblog, Talking Points Memo.

“Gridlock may delay Social Security privatization[italics Chatterbox’s] in whole or in part, but the Washington Establishment has decided that this is now going to happen. It may have to wait for a new president, but talk of reform is no longer punishable by political death. …”

Americans for Tax Reform PresidentGrover Norquist,”The New Politics of Social Security,” in the Feb. 1999 issue of the American Spectator.

“[T]here are now three litmus-test economic-policy issues that neatly separate the Reagans from the Rockefellers: dramatic tax reduction and simplification, school choice, and Social Security privatization [italics Chatterbox’s].”

Club For Growth President Stephen Moore, “Loss Leaders,”  in the Nov. 1998 issue of the National Review.

“The push to convert Social Security into a system of personal accounts has been led by the Cato Institute. The Bush plan emerged directly from Cato’s project on the subject, several members of Mr. Bush’s commission on Social Security reform had close Cato ties, and much of the commission’s staff came straight from Cato. You can read all about Cato’s role on the special Web site the institute set up,

“And what’s the name of the Cato project to promote personal accounts? Why, the Project on Social Security Privatization, of course.”

Paul Krugman, “The Bully’s Pulpit,” in the Sept. 6 New York Times.

Discussion: Apparently this isn’t the first time the NRCC tried to suppress the p-word. Click here to read an item in the May 27 New Republic about an earlier attempt. Even Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review, a Social Security privatization advocate who agrees with the NRCC that “privatization” is an unsatisfactory word, calls the NRCC memo “a piece of brazen historical revisionism.”

Got a whopper? Send it to To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

Whopper Archive:
Aug. 29, 2002: Eddie Joe Lloyd
Aug. 22, 2002: Larry Klayman
Aug. 2, 2002: Al Gore
July 26, 2002: Princeton admissions dean Stephen LeMenager
July 19, 2002: James Traficant
July 12, 2002: Maryland Lt. Gov. candidate Michael S. Steele
July 5, 2002: Hesham Mohamed Hadayet
June 28, 2002: WorldCom
June 21, 2002: Terry Lynn Barton
June 14, 2002: Tom Ridge
June 7, 2002: Former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy
May 31, 2002: Ari Fleischer
May 23, 2002: Condoleezza Rice
May 17, 2002: Robert Mueller
May 9, 2002: Karl Rove
May 3, 2002: Gen. Richard Myers
April 25, 2002: Donald Rumsfeld
April 18, 2002: George W. Bush  
April 11, 2002: The Rev. Robert J. Banks, archdiocese of Boston
April 5, 2002: George W. Bush  
March 29, 2002: Major League Baseball
March 21, 2002: Billy Graham
March 14, 2002: INS commissioner James W. Ziglar
March 8, 2002: Robert Zoellick and the U.S. steel industry
Feb. 28, 2002: Al Sharpton
Feb. 22, 2002: Olympic skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne
Feb. 14, 2002: Kenneth Lay
Feb. 8, 2002: Enron spokeswoman Peggy Mahoney
Jan. 31, 2002: Monsanto
Jan. 24, 2002: Linda Chavez
Jan. 17, 2002: George W. Bush
Jan. 10, 2002: Simon & Schuster
Jan. 4, 2002: The Associated Press

(Click  here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)