CBS Radio's Osgood advanced false claim that FDR favored private Social Security accounts


CBS News Sunday Morning anchor and CBS Radio Network host Charles Osgood echoed the erroneous suggestion first made by FOX News Washington managing editor Brit Hume -- which prompted Air America Radio host Al Franken to call on Hume to resign -- that former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt supported eventually "supplant[ing]" government funding of Social Security with private accounts. In fact, Roosevelt advocated "voluntary contributory annuities" -- which differ significantly from private accounts -- to supplement guaranteed Social Security benefits and never proposed replacing Social Security benefits with private accounts.

On the February 11 edition of Osgood's news commentary, The Osgood File, which airs daily on the CBS Radio Network and is syndicated by Westwood One, Osgood presented a clip of President Bush advocating private accounts during a town hall-style meeting on February 10, then invoked Roosevelt:

OSGOOD: Investing SOME of their own Social Security money instead of having the GOVERNMENT use it?

BUSH [clip]: "The distinct advantage of this is not only a greater, greater return. It's your own assets."

OSGOOD: By the way, who said this? "It is proposed that the federal government assume one-half of the cost of the old age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self supporting annuity plans." That was Franklin D. Roosevelt. January 17th, 1935.

But Roosevelt was not advocating that the present system of guaranteed Social Security benefits "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans," as Media Matters for America has pointed out. Rather, he was proposing that a system of both mandatory contributions -- today's Social Security -- and voluntary annuities would eventually eliminate the need for a different fund -- to be paid for equally by states and the federal government -- that was established to provide pension benefits to Americans who were already too old in 1935 to contribute payroll taxes to the Social Security system.

Further, Roosevelt's voluntary annuities would differ from private accounts in that their funds would be deposited into and paid out of the Social Security trust fund, providing a government-guaranteed benefit like mandatory contributions, as Media Matters has also documented.

Posted In
Economy, Social Security
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.