- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

There they go again, scaring seniors

To paraphrase a great American president, "There they go again." Listen to what Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe said recently: "The president's misguided priorities are clear he'd rather give billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations than preserve one of the most popular and successful government programs in American history."

This is as patently false and as far from the truth as any statement he has been heard to utter. House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri couldn't restrain himself either, saying, "The Republican House Majority has produced a budget that raided $1.8 billion from the Social Security trust fund." To make this up, he added, "You'll have to cut benefits for today's elderly."

As I said, the tactics are not new. It's true also on Medicare reform. In 1994, for example, Jeb Bush was on his way to defeating incumbent Gov. Lawton Chiles. But 72 hours before the election, the Chiles campaign paid $360,000 to send telephone scare calls to 684,000 seniors in seven heavily Republican counties. The false message, the baldfaced lie, being that Jeb Bush would take away Medicare.

So it goes, year after year, decade after decade, as our political "leaders" scare America's seniors threatening them with deep cuts in benefits while Social Security and Medicare slip into the financial abyss.

The story never changes: always the same bad guys (Republicans); always the same good guys (Democrats); always the same outcome (Long overdue, needed changes in the Depression-era retirement program and Johnson-era health-care program are further delayed).

By now, we all know both of the programs are unsustainable in their present form at their present levels, but even talk in any meaningful way about fixing them, and the Democratic leadership goes on the attack. It's like the taunting that takes place in a schoolyard: "I dare you. Double dare you."

When you do whatever you're goaded into doing, you get pummeled. This is not a partisan analysis. It's the way Washington works, where doing what's necessary and right long ago became secondary to doing whatever it takes to win partisan advantage. If lying will give you the upper hand, you lie. If scaring senior citizens will buy you votes, you scare them. It's all part of the nasty game that now dominates Washington and, as a result, very little ever gets fixed.

Just listen to Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the assistant House minority leader who recently discussed the Democrats' attack plans with the Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call. "This is going to be a battle in all areas," she said, "radio, television, print."

A collegial discussion of an important issue? No. Before a single hearing has been scheduled on anything, it has already been ordained "a battle." Of course, the Democratic leadership will tell you they only have the best interests of the 60-plus generation at heart. The Republicans, on the other hand, as Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota claimed on his Web page on April 24, want to "deplete the Social Security trust fund." This is even worse than what Mr. Gephardt had claimed a month earlier, when he accused the Republicans of special-interest budget chicanery "that raids $1.8 trillion from the Social Security trust fund."

The message to senior citizens ought to be clear: Since certain members of Congress obviously think you're stupid, gullible and selfish, pay extra care when you see or hear one of those radio, TV or print ads claiming that Republicans are trying to take away your benefits.

The 60-Plus Association will help, by organizing a national traveling truth squad to challenge the misinformation and lies, but we can't be all places at all times.

Seniors should check the facts carefully before they accept any politician's claim that some other politician is trying to undermine Social Security. It is more than likely a lie a lie whose only purpose is to scare you.


JAMES L. MARTIN

60-Plus Association

Arlington

Republican outreach does work

President Bush's positive, results-oriented agenda for national, economic and homeland security is an agenda for all Americans. It's the responsibility of the Republican National Committee (RNC) to ensure the president's message is reaching every community across America. All Americans recognize the accomplishments of Mr. Bush. The president's tax cut benefits hardworking Americans struggling to enter the middle class. His education reform makes sure no child is left behind every child is educated. The president's leadership in the war on terrorism has our nation united.

In a May 9 article, "GOP finds party a tough sell to minorities," The Times presented a flawed and inaccurate article regarding the outreach efforts of the RNC. The depth and reach of the RNC's outreach programs was not researched or presented.

Following the vision of Mr. Bush, the RNC created the Grassroots Development Division. The division is charged with the task of bringing new faces and voices into our party by sharing the president's compassionate conservative agenda. We have RNC representatives in the field working only on outreach and coalition building, and the hard work of the Grassroots Development Division has produced results. As of today, we have 127,000 team leaders, 32 types of outreach groups and more than 2.7 million Republican e-mail subscribers.

Through team leaders, we have established and developed relationships with community leaders from all ethnic backgrounds. During the past several months, we've held 15 team leader events across the country, recruiting 1,600 team leaders. For example, we had more than 200 Haitian Americans attend a team leader event in South Florida and more than 400 black Americans attend our team leader event in Atlanta.

We have 50 more team leader events planned around the country this year, including eight Asian American events, nine black American events, 14 Hispanic, 15 Catholic and several other events focusing on American Indians, Arab Americans and new immigrant communities.

Expanding the party's base by recruiting new Republican activists from traditionally swing and Democratic constituencies is the RNC's No. 1 priority. "Abriendo Caminos," the RNC's new and unprecedented Spanish language TV news magazine, is one of our most visible outreach efforts, but it is only one component of a much larger strategy. Another component of our Hispanic outreach effort is a Hispanic training program being developed for activists, campaign staffers and potential candidates. The 73 percent approval rating the president has among Hispanics is an encouraging sign that our outreach initiatives are successful.

One component, such as "Abriendo Caminos," does not encapsulate our entire outreach program, which is a multifaceted program directed toward people of all ethnic, religious and ideological backgrounds. Voter registration is also a major goal of the Grassroots Development Division.

For example, in California alone, 200,000 new Republican voters have been registered to vote since Mr. Bush took office. Our goal is to register another 500,000 in California. Voter registration is taking place at every available opportunity, from naturalization ceremonies to community events. In the fall, these new Republican voters will have diverse candidates to support, such as Lynnette Boggs-McDonald, a black American running for Congress in Nevada, or Mario Diaz-Balart, a Hispanic American running for Congress in South Florida.

We believe we have never had a stronger message that reaches as diverse of a population as our Republican message of hope and opportunity does right now. The RNC is 100 percent committed to outreach, and that is more than a sound bite. It is part of our organizational culture. Results are what matter, and that is why the RNC is taking a proactive approach toward outreach. Our opponents are always quick to discount our outreach efforts, but their philosophy of taking certain voting groups for granted is not a way to win elections or inspire a nation.


MARC RACICOT

Chairman

Republican National Committee

Washington

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