Another big lie – “they want to steal your retirement” – gains traction as 2022 approaches


After being exposed to advertisements or campaigns of harsh political attacks that make outrageous and easily debunked claims, in the past I would react with skepticism: “No one will believe this shit”.

The classic First Amendment ideal would come to mind – that the burning light of truth is the best way to expose lies and lies in the political sphere.

Unfortunately, this no longer works. The fragmentation of mainstream news media and the rise of social media has spread the beacon of truth so much that it never reaches many people.

The elephant in the room (excuse the pun) is the absolute conversion of the Republican Party to Donald Trump’s ethics of power at all costs. Obtaining and maintaining power trumps all other considerations, be it truth, morality, humanity or constitutional principle.

The idea that you can convince people with persuasive arguments backed up by facts seems almost strange today. It’s a world where a strong majority of Republicans believe Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election, despite no credible evidence.

These aren’t just election lies, however.

A conversation I had last week with two seniors in my neighborhood in Southeast Ohio showed just how damaging and pervasive this situation has become.

The older man and woman, each from a different household, were chatting outside the man’s house as I walked past walking our dog and cat (yes, our cat comes with us on walks).

The man, a retired coal miner whom I have known, loved and respected for over 35 years, asked me in disgust, “Hey, Terry, have you seen how they plan to tax retirement savings?” people ?

The other neighbor added: “Yes, I saw that too.” She said she understands Democrats are offering to skim people’s IRAs and retirement savings to pay for their big socialist plans.

After responding that I highly doubted the Democrats were stupid enough to sabotage their own electoral prospects by plundering people’s retirement savings, I returned home to find out where they had heard about this bizarre proposal.

It didn’t take long to find articles online about an advertising campaign launched in mid-September by the Republican-aligned political nonprofit, the Common Sense Leadership Fund. According to multiple media accounts, this black money PAC has targeted swing voters in many states where vulnerable Democrats are running for Congress in 2022.

In one of two similar TV commercials aired during the campaign (which may have ended by the time this article is published), a narrator states the following as worried faces of older Americans march past:

“… Now the Washington Liberals want to tax your retirement funds to pay for their new trillion dollar takeover. They call it progress, but it’s theft, outright. The narrator recommends that they call their Democratic representative in Congress and “tell (them) that America keeps its promises.” Don’t let the Washington Liberals steal our retirement.

It is not known if Ohio is among the dozen states where the ads are believed to have aired. Still, I have no doubt that the central idea of ​​the ad campaign – that Liberal lawmakers plan to steal Americans’ pensions every day – is what my neighbors were referring to. The two said they “saw it on television”.

And lest we supply more oxygen to the monstrous lie, IT IS FALSE. The real truth is almost the opposite of the main claim in the ad.

The ad campaign deliberately misinterprets one of the proposals in the Congressional Democrats’ massive budget reconciliation bill, aka Build Back Better. The tax proposal would create new rules for people with more than $ 10 million combined in various IRAs and 401 (k) retirement plans.

An article on the Poynter Institute’s fact-checking website ( explains the proposed change in too much detail to explain here (see link). But to boil it down to its essence, the proposed change, a secondary revenue-raising provision in Congressional Democrats’ original $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, would make it harder for very wealthy Americans to bribe it. IRA’s express goal to protect their millions and billions. taxes. Yet even for these people, the provision would not take, skim or steal money from their retirement accounts.

The provision would not cover anyone you know, anyone I know, or anyone my elderly neighbors know. In fact, according to Politifact, out of 51 million Americans who currently have traditional or Roth IRAs, this tax provision in the Democrats’ bill would only affect 3,600 of the wealthiest. It’s a microscopic percentage, even though I gave up the math.

The Politifact article highlights the Bizarro World nature of the Republican attacks on this relatively minor provision in Build Back Better. Unlike the “theft” of retirement savings from ordinary Americans, “other parts of the bill subsidize the retirement savings of tens of millions of middle-income households. These proposals create an automatic enrollment system for IRAs and expand tax credits for low and moderate income savers.

Key provisions of the Democrats ‘initial $ 3.5 trillion social spending program would significantly expand Americans’ financial, health, and education safety net, while investing heavily in slowing climate change. He claims to do this without raising taxes for anyone earning less than $ 400,000 a year.

Anyone who follows the news knows that Builds Back Better faces determined opposition not only from socialism-denouncing Republicans and tax-and-spend liberals, but also from conservative Democrats. Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, was quoted over the weekend expressing concern that the spending program would create a “rights society.”

These are predictable and fair critiques, all within the safeguards of a healthy debate over what is admittedly a radical shift in national spending priorities and tax policy.

They are a million miles from the blatant lie that my neighbors absorbed and innocently repeated on my walk the other day. If two random elderly people digested and spread this seductive lie, it has probably circulated among millions. Scare the elderly who absolutely depend on their retirement savings is one thing. But doing it with the opposite of the truth should grease the skates to hell.

Needless to say, there should be a law against black money ads that spew grotesque lies. The fact that there is none is a bloody stain on this country and its justice.

According to The Hill’s website, the Common-Sense Leadership Fund is headed by Kevin McLaughlin, a GOP veteran who led the National Republican Senate Committee in the last election cycle. In an interview with Politico in August, McLaughlin said his organization was funded by “an anonymous and concerned citizen.” He then declined to say whether the group had one or more donors. The law does not require that you be identified.

IN THE MEANTIME, RETURN TO MY older neighbors worried about their retirement savings.

If they took a moment to consider the Build Back Better bill, they might be happy to see that it would not only improve the benefits of retirement savings for ordinary Americans and lower taxes for citizens of the United States. middle class ; it would also expand medicare to cover vision, dental and hearing aids.

Whether they hear the truth through the thicket of lies that sprung from the Republican black money effort is an open question, although sad to say, I think we all know the answer.

(I returned and gave my elderly neighbor a printout of the Politifact article. He thanked me.)



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