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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of March 8-14

This week, readers praised our article on Social Security and also sent comments about Rep. Ron Paul, unions, budget cuts and other readers’ comments.

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.


Shout-Outs on Social Security

THANK YOU for your wonderful article(s) on Social Security ["Democrats Deny Social Security’s Red Ink," Feb. 25]. Frankly, I’m still shocked at the intense reaction from people when they are told Social Security is in trouble. But then again, there are more than enough irresponsible people saying that. (At one point I was collecting quotes from Democrats, e.g. Senator Moynihan, re: the real problems with SS.)

Especially thank you for the second article, restating the facts ["Our Angry Readers," March 9]. Until people agree on the facts (re: the problem), there is no hope for fixing it. Keep up the great work!!!

Lea Abdnor
Boulder, Colo.

Thank you so much for getting the facts out there. I have read so many opposing views that I truly believed that there was money in that account. I DO know that if Congress hadn’t raided it so frequently then there would be money available.

If Congress would just get their behinds out of their heads (and the reverse), removing the earnings ceiling for SS would fix up that account PDQ. It just irritates me no end that Congress is very willing to spend money, but NOT willing to return the income tax to its previous levels so that the wealthy are paying their fair share.

As with most folks, SS is 50% of my monthly income and I’d be sore put to live decently without it. Let’s put Congress in the same position and then see what they fund.

Mary Davidson
Demorest, Ga.

I’m glad to see that your research continues to shine a light on the often-bemuddled facts around the budget. As a moderate liberal who has never associated strongly with one party or another, I find the denial of facts on both sides of the aisle to be a deeply unfortunate sign of the political times. Please, keep up the good fight, and know that there are those of us who typically remain silent, but deeply appreciate the work you do.

Aaron Sherman
Somerville, Mass.

Keep it up. Just the facts. None of us like being told our (as the Buddhists say) attractions and aversions are simply that. I don’t like the things you tell me sometimes (I receive Social Security), but we can’t solve our problems if we don’t see things as they are. Along with Politifact, you do this country a service.

Eric Kindberg
Cincinnati, Ohio

Stick to your guns. You got it just right. The subject is just a bit too complex for some to grasp without a very good picture. As H.L. Mencken has been quoted: “The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”

Dan Meiller
Anthem, Ariz.


Speaking Up for the 1%

I have to take exception to your comments on Ron Paul’s take on the estate tax ["The 2012 GOP Field," Jan. 7]. It may be true that the tax affected only 1% of all estates or 532 estates last year, but that’s small consolation if you’re one of the 1%. I guess that’s the penalty for not taking tax avoidance steps before dying.

Chris Elhardt
, Texas


What About Union Donations?

To be complete and accurate, I would like to have seen this article ["Crossroads & Unions," March 9] state how much money the two union organizations (Service Union and NEA) donated to the 2010 elections since it was stated how much Crossroads donated.

Lee Heidel
Signal Mountain, Tenn.


Too Literal

What justifies your assumption ["Dems’ ‘Halfway’ Hustle," March 7] that when Democrats say they will meet Republican proposals of $61B in cuts "halfway" that you should be able to put a specific number to it? Why should the Republican figure of $61B command some numerical authority? To meet "halfway" is to signal a willingness to compromise. Do you know of some instance where a Democrat expressed willingness to cut about $30B? I don’t think you do. There is simply no justification for your introduction of "arithmetic" into the use of a figure of speech.

FactCheck risks becoming irrelevant if you run stories that make unwarranted assumptions about "facts" as you did in this case.

John Simmons
New York, N.Y.


Checking Comments

I am new to FactCheck, and have found it refreshing. However, I am confused by the weekly posting of the mailbag. While it is encouraging that you post alternate points of view, the mailbag contains reader commentary without references. This is disturbing from two facets. First is the unverified commentary and the next is the lack of response to either validating or refuting the reader comments that FactCheck chooses to post.

Maybe it is reasonable for you to ask readers to post responses that include some form of citation, and then you can either validate or refute the response based on your own research. Otherwise, reader comments are just typical useless noise and posting them does not help to understand or clarify a position.

Steve Rashkow
Westford, N.Y.

FactCheck.org responds: The Mailbag is intended as a forum for readers to express a variety of opinions and arguments. When readers make factual claims, we welcome and appreciate citations, but don’t require them. If we know a factual claim to be incorrect or mistaken, our policy is simply not to post it here.