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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Sept. 7-Sept. 13

This week, readers sent us comments about Social Security, the fictitious 1 percent transaction tax, Nevada’s Joe Heck and holding parties’ feet to the fire.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

And, Not or, on Social Security

All the debate over whether to allow people to invest money in stocks or bonds rather than Social Security in order to get a better return misses the point of Social Security. For starters individual investment plans are already available through IRAs and various other deferred compensation plans. No one is being prevented from participating in them now and there are tax advantages to doing so but they are fundamentally different in nature than SS. The difference is the difference between "me" and "we."

An individual plan may provide greater long term return and has the advantage of being inheritable by your survivors, but if you become sick or disabled, forcing you to leave the work force early in life, you can find yourself with little or no resources. Likewise if your investments do not perform as expected.

Social Security on the other hand is more like an insurance policy. While it may not build a large sum of money that belongs to you as an individual, it provides protection against unforeseen situations such as those mentioned above. It is not a way to accumulate wealth but it is a hedge against abject poverty.

The reality is that the two are not comparable. The question is not "should we be investing this or that." The wise person should have both.

Jim Bullard
West Stockholm, N.Y.


What the Heck?

I am a huge fan of your website but I must take issue with whoever wrote this:

Another ad makes the over-the-top charge that Heck is "dangerous to women," because of his Social Security idea and his opposition to a state bill to require insurance coverage of a cervical cancer vaccine. Heck opposed the bill, but it easily became law. ["AFSCME’s Big, Brazen Attack," Sept. 1]

Seriously? What difference does it make whether the bill "easily became law" or not? Are lawmakers only held to account for their votes on bills that  passed when they were for them or didn’t pass when they were against them? The fact that the bill passed has absolutely nothing to do with Heck’s opposition to it. The reason for his opposition is extremely sexist and should not be inconsequential to the factcheck itself, especially since the ad mentioned the danger to women who couldn’t afford the vaccine without insurance coverage.

I think most women, if not all, would find it troubling that a man could turn a woman’s health issue into a moral issue with nothing but his "philosophy" argument to back him up. Just exactly what male-oriented vaccines are insurance carriers not legally mandated to cover? I can’t think of a single one.

The fact that Heck believes that all women must be celibate, including those of us that are married I’m assuming, or risk the consequences of cervical cancer is reason enough for me to believe he’s a threat to women … and how you can come to any other conclusion is beyond me.

Theresa Mostaffa
Round Rock, Texas


Pro-Fact Protests

Like Beth Dewey [FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Aug. 1-Sept. 6], I too have complained when my party (ever since Nixon, primarily Democrats) puts out incorrect information, and I generally learn about such by reading FactCheck’s weekly reports. I’d imagine there are Republican supporters who do the same when their candidates go similarly astray. Is there a story here? Are any of the pols listening?

Keep up the great work.

Charles Quinn
Columbus, Ohio


Facts Over Partisanship

Thank you for defusing this situation ["1% Transaction Tax," Sept. 8]. I am not in his corner by a long way, but also do not want inflammatory information making things even worse.

Dick Wiese
Milwaukee, Wisc.