Social Secruity Forums Come Under Fire

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James B. Lockhart III, the deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration (SSA), has been appearing with Republican members of Congress -- including Tom DeLay -- across the country to promote the President's privatization plan. The New York Times (registration required) reports that:

"Mr. Lockhart's travels come at a time when the administration's efforts to advance its policies are under scrutiny. A few weeks ago, employees at Social Security objected to a publicity drive that they said had twisted facts about the solvency of the system to create an appetite for personal accounts."


And Senate Democrats voiced their concerns in the article:

"'The administration is running one of the most sophisticated grassroots lobbying strategies in history, and they are using federal employees and taxpayer dollars to do it,' said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey. 'Social Security employees should be spending their time serving the needs of Social Security recipients, not advancing a political agenda.'

"Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said the agency 'is supposed to serve all the people and should not be giving the appearance that it is taking sides.'

"'It is absolutely inappropriate for officials from the Social Security Administration to hit the hustings in support of the president's plan,' Mr. Schumer said in a statement."

This one may not go away -- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a lawsuit against the SSA for failing to fulfill a FOIA request asking with which PR firms the SSA has contracts.