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The continuing saga of Wiley, e-mail dupe

By Josh Richman
Thursday, August 5th, 2010 at 1:21 pm in Uncategorized.

You might recall I wrote about a month ago about Wiley, the reader who keeps spamming my colleagues and I with political chain-letter messages that often have taken a permanent vacation from reality.

one sad coyoteNever letting the facts get in the way of a good tirade, he’s still at it, and today was a double header of lies.

The first one he sent today was one of those that I debunked in my previous posting: the claim that your taxable income will be increased in 2011 by the cost of your health-care insurance plan. That’s not true – it will appear on your W-2, but it’s not taxable income.

“MORE LIES FROM OBAMA! YOUR TAXES ARE GOING UP!! ALL YOU PENNY ANY WORKERS ARE GOING TO PAY MUCH MORE. YOU WANTED CHANGE, YOU GOT IT,” Wiley screamed in his all-caps rant.

The second one today was prefaced with a longer rant.

“AFTER BEING DUMNDOWN IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM SINCE THE 60′S, MOST DEMOCRATS DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY. THEY HAVE BEEN STUFFED WITH LIES ABOUT THE REPUBS AND THEY DON’T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT THE TRUTH. THE DEMOCRATS HAVE KEPT RACISIM ALIVE BY KEEPING THE BLACKS DOWN, AND KEEPING THEM DEPENDENT ON THE GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS, AND GETTING THERE VOTES. AT THIS TIME THEY WANT AMNESTY FOR ILLEGALS FOR MORE DEMOCRATS. THE UNIONS WANT MORE ILLEGALS FOR MORE MEMBERSHIP IE MORE DUES. NIETHER ONE GIVES A DAM ABOUT AMERICA!”

Wowsers! Sounds serious! But yet again, just a little bit of scrutiny brings much of the screed crashing down. See the rundown, after the jump…

Here’s what was in the attachment to Wiley’s second e-mail today:

Our Social Security

Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:
1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary,
No longer Voluntary
2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program,
Now 7.65% on the first $90,000
3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,
No longer tax deductible
4.) That the money the participants put into the independent ‘Trust Fund’ rather than into the general operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,
Under Johnson the money was moved to The General Fund and Spent
5) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income
Under Clinton & Gore up to 85% of your Social Security can be taxed

Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month — and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government to ‘put away’ — you may be interested in the following:

Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent ‘Trust Fund’ and put it into the general fund so that Congress could spend it?
A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the democratically controlled House and Senate.

———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— —

Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?
A: The Democratic Party.

———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— —–

Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?
A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the ‘tie-breaking’ deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the US

———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— –

Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?
AND MY FAVORITE:
A: That’s right!
Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

———— — ———— ——— —– ———— ——— ———

Then, after violating the original contract (FICA), the Democrats turn around and tell you that the Republicans want to take your Social Security away!
The worst part about it is uninformed citizens believe it and believe that the Democats are “for the people.”
If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe changes will evolve. Maybe not, some Democrats are awfully sure of what isn’t so.
How many people can YOU send this to? Actions speak louder than bumper stickers.
AND CONGRESS GIVES THEMSELVES 100% RETIREMENT FOR ONLY SERVING ONE TERM Not to mention the pay raise they voted for them selves after denying the ‘little people a cost of living’!!

Apparently this e-mail has been floating around for five years. The Annenberg Center for Public Policy’s FactCheck.org says:

This elaborate collection of falsehoods is so detailed that we believe it must be an intentional and malicious effort at disinformation. It grafts some new whoppers on top of a list that we debunked in April 2004, in a special report we called “Lies in the E-mail, Part 2.” The earlier version, we said, was “full of laughably inaccurate claims,” and this one is worse.

Snopes.com breaks it down pretty nicely, too.

In short:

1.) There was never a provision for Social Security to be voluntary.

2.) Social Security taxes were never limited to the first $1,400 of annual income, nor was there any provision in the Social Security Act of 1935 to permanently fix the tax rate at 1 percent. That law set the original rate at 1 percent of the first $3,000 of income with provisions to gradually increase that rate to 3 percent over the following 12 years; the numbers have been adjusted many times since.

3.) The original Social Security Act of 1935 specifically stated that Social Security payroll taxes were not to be allowed as income tax deductions, and they’ve never been deductible since.

4.) As Snopes puts it, “(T)he government can ‘invest’ Social Security funds by lending them to itself, then spending that money on programs not related to Social Security (e.g. defense, foreign aid, education). The government ‘pays back’ this money when the Social Security program redeems the bonds, but critics of the program contend Social Security will eventually fall into deficit by 2018 and the Treasury won’t have the necessary cash on hand to redeem the bonds and pay back the fund.”

5.) Social Security benefits weren’t originally considered taxable income, it’s true, but that wasn’t due to any promise by FDR or specification in the Social Security Act or other laws; it was the result of Treasury Department rulings in 1938 and 1941, which were overridden by amendments to the Social Security Act enacted in 1983, during the Reagan Administration.

And as for the Q&A’s…

1.) There was a change in 1969, during the Johnson administration, in how the fund was accounted for in the federal budget, but not in the fund’s actual operations; that accounting method was reversed in 1990, anyway.

2.) Dead on arrival! Social Security withholding has never been deductible from income for tax purposes.

3.) Amendments to the Social Security Act passed by Congress in 1983 allowed for 50 percent of Social Security benefits to be considered taxable income for taxpayers whose total income exceeded certain thresholds – but that’s not easy to pin just on the Democratic Congress. It was recommended by the Greenspan Commission, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan; the amendments were passed on bipartisan votes and signed into law by Reagan.

4.) Here lies the grain of truth: A Democratic Congress upped the percentage of Social Security benefits subject to taxation from 50 percent to 85 percent in 1993, during the Clinton Administration, and Gore was the tie-breaking Senate vote.

5.) And now we’re back to the lies. No citizen, immigrant or illegal alien can collect Social Security benefits unless that person, a parent or a spouse paid into the system.

So that seems like one or two nuggets of truth buried in an avalanche of falsehoods. With that accuracy rate, I think Wiley flunks History this semester, don’t you?

UPDATE @ 11:20 A.M. FRIDAY: Wiley was apoplectic (at least I think he was; it’s hard to tell because he almost always communicates in ALL CAPS) that I challenged the veracity of his latest screed yesterday.

“check snopes jimmy carter; S.S. changes. I guess your smarter than snopes……..typical looser!,” he wrote at 4:56 p.m.

Alas, I’d gone to cover some news by then. My lack of an immediate response seemed to enrage Wiley: “ARE YOU GOING TO RATTLE YOUR COMPUTER ON YOUR MISTAKE? OR DOESN’T SNOPES KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. COME ON BIG MOUTH!,” he wrote at 9:04 p.m.

So this morning, I went back to Snopes.com and searched for “Jimmy Carter Social Security Changes” as Wiley suggested. It took me right back to the page I’d linked to yesterday, which says:

Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?

A: That’s right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive SSI Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

No one – whether he be a citizen, immigrant or illegal alien – is eligible to collect Social Security benefits unless he (or someone else, such as a parent or spouse) has paid into the system. Someone has confused Social Security itself with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – the latter is a federal welfare program “designed to help aged, blind and disabled people, who have little or no income” by providing “cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.” Immigrants can qualify for SSI benefits under certain conditions, but SSI is financed by general revenues and not Social Security taxes. SSI was not enacted by the administration of President Jimmy Carter (a Democrat); it was created and signed into law in 1972, during the administration of President Richard Nixon (a Republican).

So now we’ve established that even when Wiley is directed to correct information, he still can’t or won’t acknowledge facts – Social Security and SSI are two entirely separate programs, funded differently, with different purposes, and neither was created by Jimmy Carter. I led the horse (coyote?) to water, but he wouldn’t drink.

Carter did sign into law some amendments to Social Security. The 1977 amendments fixed a “double-indexing” problem enacted by 1972 amendments which had caused cost-of-living increases to overcompensate for inflation, causing benefits to rise at almost twice the rate of inflation. The Carter-era amendments also altered the tax formulas to raise more money, increasing withholding from 2 percent to 6.15 percent – a reaction to projections of large, long-term deficits or even insolvency.

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