After reading this exchange in Friday’s gaggle I assumed that the Bush assministration was going to make a Big Deal of Chimpy’s visit to the Bureau of the Public Debt.
Q Can I ask briefly about next week, as well? Parkersburg, the visit to the Bureau of the Public Debt. The President said on a number of occasions the trust fund — the Social Security trust fund doesn’t exist. I gather this is a way of saying, well, it does, but it’s really only on paper?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we might want to wait and talk a little bit more about it Monday. But I think that’s one of the points the President will emphasize. That is one of the problems with the Social Security system, because of the way it’s been set up as a pay-as-you-go system. Many people, I think, think that their money is being set aside and held in an account somewhere, and it’s not. The government is holding IOUs, but they’re not setting aside their money. And the benefit of personal accounts is that that will be your money, you will own it, you will control it, it will be yours to pass on to your heirs, as well. And that’s one of the important elements of the President’s plan to strengthen Social Security.
Q Is he going to say anything there about how Social Security, in its current pay-as-you-go form, actually helps keep the debt down?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, let’s get a little bit closer to the day, and then we can talk more about it at that point. I think it’s still a few days out before the President has finalized exactly what he wants to say on that day. But you’ve heard him talk about these issues already, and certainly he’s continuing to go across the country to talk about the importance of acting now to strengthen Social Security. It is a problem that only gets worse with time. It is on an unsustainable course, and we need to fix it now.
And though Scottie promised to povide more details on this exciting event on Monday, when the day rolled around there was no mention of it at all.
Today is the big day, but as of this writing the White House has not released any images of the Parkersburg even. They did release this brief transcript.
President Tours Bureau of Public Debt in West Virginia
Bureau of Public Debt
Parkersburg, West Virginia
10:00 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: See, what’s interesting is a lot of people believe that the Social Security trust is — the government takes a person’s money, invests it, and then pays it back to them upon retirement. It doesn’t work that way.
MS. CHAPMAN: That’s right, that’s exactly right.
THE PRESIDENT: This is what exists. And it’s very important, then, to make sure that in the future that there’s real access for retirees.
But I want to thank you all for having me come. I want to thank all the workers here for representing the mighty United States. I’m proud to work with you. I thank you for what you do. And my message here in town is that we have an obligation to take the system that Franklin Roosevelt created and make it work for a younger generation of Americans. I’m looking forward to working with Congress to do that. That’s what the American people expect. They expect us to modernize the system.
Anyway, thanks for having us.
MS. CHAPMAN: Well, thank you for coming. We’re proud to have you visit us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks.
END 10:52 A.M. EDT
That’s it. No hoopla, nothing.
I did notice that the White House transcript has the event starting at 10:00 AM EDT and ending at 10:52 AM EDT. Now, certainly it did not take even this mentally-challenged president 52 minutes to mumble his way through those brief remarks (156 words by my count).
The exchange with the mysterious Ms. Chapman counld not have taken more than 2 minutes. What happened during the remaining 50 minutes?