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So this happened over the weekend: The Washington Post printed a spectacularly dishonest front-page "news" story about the looming doom of Social Security, with the Halloween-inspired doomsday title "The debt fallout: How Social Security went 'cash negative' earlier than expected." The scary part for Washington, D.C:
Now, Social Security is sucking money out of the Treasury. This year, it will add a projected $46 billion to the nation’s budget problems, according to projections by system trustees. Replacing cash lost to a one-year payroll tax holiday will require an additional $105 billion. If the payroll tax break is expanded next year, as President Obama has proposed, Social Security will need an extra $267 billion to pay promised benefits. [...]

Social Security is hardly the biggest drain on the budget. But unless Congress acts, its finances will continue to deteriorate as the rising tide of baby boomers begins claiming benefits. The $2.6 trillion Social Security trust fund will provide little relief. The government has borrowed every cent and now must raise taxes, cut spending or borrow more heavily from outside investors to keep benefit checks flowing.

Many Democrats have largely chosen to ignore the shortfall, insisting the program is flush, citing the existence of the trust fund. They argue that fixing Social Security can wait, perhaps for years.

A regular vampire, Social Security is, in WaPo's world, and Democrats are enabling its evil plan to destroy America. The story has been ably debunked for the gazillioneth time by Krugman:

What you can’t do is insist that the trust fund is meaningless, because SS is just part of the budget, then claim that some crisis arises when receipts fall short of payments, because SS is a standalone program. Yet that’s exactly what the WaPo claims.

This is what you call negative journalistic value added.

And Baker:

This "treacherous milestone" is entirely the Post's invention, it has absolutely nothing to do with the law that governs Social Security benefit payments. Under the law, as long as their is money in the trust fund, then Social Security is able to pay full benefiits. There is literally no other possible interpretation of the law. [...]

This article also repeatedly refers to the debate over cutting benefits as being an "ideological battle." There is no evidence presented in this piece that there is any ideological issue at stake. On the one hand are hundreds of millions of workers who want to see the benefits that they paid for. On the other hand are many wealthy people, exemplified by people like Peter Peterson and Erskine Bowles who would rather use Social Security money to keep their own taxes low or to serve other purposes.

This is a battle over who gets the money. The references to ideology just confuse the situation.

And Atrios, who picks up Baker's theme, and nails it.

And, no, sensible liberals, there is no way to make this "debate" go away with some "grand compromise." Fake news articles like this should make that clear. The rich want that Social Security money, it's how they guarantee themselves a lovely tax cut.

This was The Village, comprised entirely of the 1 percent, in attitude if not actual dollar worth, telling the Catfood Commission II that it expects Social Security to be part of the mix when it comes to slashing and burning. If the plan offered by Sen. Max Baucus and a majority of the Democrats on the committee is any indication, they already are far too influenced to keeping their friends rich.

They should be hearing from the 99 percent, too. Here are those Democrats: Senators Patty Murray, Max Baucus and John Kerry; and Reps. Xavier Becerra, James Clyburn and Chris Van Hollen. They also should read Dean Baker's reality check. Send it to them. Here's the contact page for the Senate and the House.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:15:12 AM PDT

  •  Timed Release from WAPO (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joan McCarter, jacey

    To Support This Democratic Plan:


    The 1% is particularly brazen in making these destructive proposals now when the 99% are making their voices heard across this nation in a multitude of ways. On Wednesday October 26th in Washington, DC, Rep. John Conyers stood with nine other members of Congress and more than 100 seniors and supporters, to deliver more than 2.3 million petitions from the 99% along with a resolution put forward by 82 members of Congress representing the will of the 99%, with a single message: Hands Off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid!

        Almost immediately after these 2.3 million petitions were delivered, the Democrats on the Super Committee completely ignored their message and pushed more cuts to the middle class and less tax increases for millionaires and billionaires than any previous "bipartisan" commission. According to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the current Democratic proposal is to the "right of co-chairs of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and the Senate's 'Gang of Six,' and even further to the right of the plan by the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici commission"

        The secretive and unaccountable Super Committee is meeting behind closed doors and proposing devastating cuts that would be shouldered by the 99%. We just released new reports in all of the Super Committee states detailing the $621 billion that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid provide for real Americans in the Super Committee states.

    I'm guessing they're not going to hear that any more than they hear the rumbling of people taking to the streets.

    Send this link to all, and by all means make calls and visit!

  •  Hey WaPo, We Boomers Are Gonna Die Out. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joan McCarter


    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 09:09:58 AM PDT

  •  WAPO gets blowback (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Dave Dayen:

    The pressure on WaPo writer Lori Montgomery has been intense. Here was her response to a reader:

        I am a journalist, not an economist. If you view Dean Baker as the voice of
        god, then I’m afraid we’re not going to get very far.

        My article is as accurate and as objective as I could make it. Perhaps you’d like to point out some of these blatant falsehoods so I can respond to them directly.

    Voice of God Dean Baker has already done the honors on that. She called the cash-negative position of Social Security, completely expected and planned by those who built up a $2.6 trillion surplus in the Trust Fund, as a “treacherous milestone.” And it goes downhill from there.

    It’s good to see what passes for the liberal noise machine at least get the attention of the media disinformation campaign to make it easier to steal retirement insurance from the American public.

  •  it's a goddamn dogfight...every fucking step of (2+ / 0-)

    the way...

    they've got the guns, we've got the numbers

    Kick a "job creator" in the balls today!

    by memofromturner on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 10:20:03 AM PDT

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