Winter is here, and in keeping with the season the Republican White House is planning a carefully crafted campaign of obfuscation (i.e., a snow job!) in an effort to convince present and future retirees and the public in general that a “crisis” is looming with Social Security and changes need to be made.

While I agree that changes are needed, there is no crisis, and besides, the changes proposed by the White House are the first step toward the eventual elimination of the program.

People knowledgeable about the Social Security Trust Fund are saying the fund is solvent until 2042. They also say that removing the current $87,900 cap on income that is subject to the Social Security tax would make Social Security fiscally secure for the foreseeable future.

Raise Social Security taxes on our wealthiest citizens? No way, says the Bush administration. Instead, let’s create an “ownership society” where individuals will be allowed to divert 2 percent of their “own money” into more lucrative investments.

As we all know, the devil is in the details and the Bush proposal is lacking in any details.

What are some of the details the Bush administration refuses to divulge?

1. A 2 percent diversion from Social Security to private accounts creates a shortfall to be made up by huge borrowing, adding to the deficit.

2. When I was young retirement wasn’t on my radar screen, and it probably isn’t on a lot of young people’s radar screens today. I’m pushing 70, and Social Security is my major source of income. Would I have made the right “personal investment” decisions when I was 21? With the potential for increased returns comes increased risk. Who will make up for the losses?

3. Social Security is a single-payer system and its administrative costs are small compared to the administrative costs of all those “individual accounts,” both winners and losers!

4. Bush’s “ownership society” is a cynical attempt to divert billions of dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund into the hands of investment bankers and brokerage houses.

There are many other changes that could be enacted that would ease the financial burden on all retirees, without touching a percent of Social Security. Here are two: a single-payer national health plan that covers all medical needs including prescription drugs, and eliminating or drastically reducing in property taxes and utility bills for low-income retirees.

Bill Mackovich is a retired industrial worker in Chicago.