White House: Washington Post Article 'Flat Wrong'

article top

WASHINGTON (Talon News) — The White House pushed back against an article in Thursday’s Washington Post, calling it ‘flat wrong’ about the President Bush’s plan for Social Security reform. The article appeared the morning following the president’s State of the Union address in which he provided a list of broad principles that would govern his approach to overhauling the retirement system.

Bush began a five-state tour on Thursday to make his case to the American people for his reform proposals. He visited states that he carried in November’s elections that have one or more Democratic senators. Meanwhile, in Washington, the Democratic leadership vowed to block any plan that would include personal retirement accounts.


The article’s publication also coincided with a press conference Congressional Democrats held at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial on Thursday to proclaim their opposition to any change in the retirement program. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) led the caucus who reiterated their determination to prevent the president’s plan from being passed.

The White House voiced its objection to the Washington Post news article by Jonathan Weisman titled, “Participants would Forfeit Part of Accounts’ Profits,” saying that its headline and central assertion were inaccurate. The White House said that the statement about workers who opt for personal accounts “would ultimately get to keep only the investment returns that exceed the rate of return that the money would have accrued in the traditional system,” is wrong. The White House has asked the newspaper for a correction.

In a press release, the White House stressed, “Under President Bush’s plan, participants would get every single penny of their retirement accounts — both the principal and interest.”

It disputed the Washington Post claim that personal retirement accounts benefit the federal government because of a “claw back” feature. Such a feature would reduce the amount of benefits paid out by the federal government when the personal retirement account investments earn more than the standard rate of return in the traditional system. In effect, the more successful the personal account does, the less a beneficiary would receive from the government.

The White House denied that the president’s plan for personal retirement accounts contains a “claw back” feature. It insisted that the amount beneficiaries receive from the government would not be affected by the performance of a personal account. All gains from the retirement accounts would go to the beneficiary.

The author of the article, Jonathan Weisman, recently posted an article on a journalism web site, PoynterOnline.com discussing his dissatisfaction with how the White House dealt with him. He complained that in exchange for special access to administration officials, the White House wanted to approve attributable quotes for accuracy.

He wrote, “I think it is time for all of us to reconsider the way we cover the White House.”

Last August, Weisman wrote an article for the Washington Post titled, “Tax Burden Shifts to the Middle” which reflected a theme of the Kerry campaign’s “middle class squeeze.” It sited conclusions in a Congressional Budget Office report that had been requested by Democrats on the Capitol Hill. At the time, the Bush campaign suggested the results had been “shaded” by the questions asked by Democrats.