Framing the Social Security Debate: Values, Politics, and Economics

In his 1998 State of the Union address, President Clinton challenged Americans to a public debate about how to fix the long-term financial problems of Social Security. This annual volume of the National Academy of Social Insurance provides a framework for that debate. Competing reform proposals reflect contrasting views about the nature of the Social Security problem and how to solve it. This book examines issues about privatization, national savings and economic growth, the political risks and realities in reforms, lessons from private pensions developments in the United States, and the efforts of other advanced industrial countries to adapt their old-age pensions to an aging population. It also poses philosophical arguments about collective versus individual responsibility and the implications of market risks and political risks for stable and secure retirement income policy. The contributors are Theo Angelis, Michael J. Boskin, Peter A. Diamond, John Geanakoplos, Hugh Heclo, Karen C. Holden, Howell Jackson, Olivia Mitchell, Dallas L. Salisbury, Lawrence H. Thompson, Kent Weaver, and Stephen P. Zeldes. Copublished with the National Academy of Social Insurance
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About the author

R. Douglas Arnold is professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. Michael J. Graetz is Justus S. Hotchkiss Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He served in the U.S. Department of Treasury from 1990 to 1992. His most recent book is Death by a Thousand Cuts (Princeton, 2005). Alicia H. Munnell is the Peter F. Drucker Professor of Management Sciences at Boston College's Carroll School of Management and director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. A former member of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, she has written or edited numerous books, including Coming Up Short: The Challenge of 401(k) Plans, with Annika Sunden (Brookings, 2004).

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Additional Information

Jessica Kingsley Publishers
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Published on
Dec 31, 1998
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Political Science / American Government / General
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Security
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Congress, the Press, and Political Accountability is the first large-scale examination of how local media outlets cover members of the United States Congress. Douglas Arnold asks: do local newspapers provide the information citizens need in order to hold representatives accountable for their actions in office? In contrast with previous studies, which largely focused on the campaign period, he tests various hypotheses about the causes and consequences of media coverage by exploring coverage during an entire congressional session.

Using three samples of local newspapers from across the country, Arnold analyzes all coverage over a two-year period--every news story, editorial, opinion column, letter, and list. First he investigates how twenty-five newspapers covered twenty-five local representatives; and next, how competing newspapers in six cities covered their corresponding legislators. Examination of an even larger sample, sixty-seven newspapers and 187 representatives, shows why some newspapers cover legislators more thoroughly than do other papers. Arnold then links the coverage data with a large public opinion survey to show that the volume of coverage affects citizens' awareness of representatives and challengers.

The results show enormous variation in coverage. Some newspapers cover legislators frequently, thoroughly, and accessibly. Others--some of them famous for their national coverage--largely ignore local representatives. The analysis also confirms that only those incumbents or challengers in the most competitive races, and those who command huge sums of money, receive extensive coverage.

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