Friday, July 8, 2011

How to Legally Lie Cheat and Steal

The political right is using its muscle in the media to sell a message that is stampeding people to policies that make no sense. Here is a bit from a post by Dean Baker on his Beat the Press blog:
The business-backed group Third Way has been making a big point of going after Social Security lately. Today it had a column telling us that Social Security is in crisis, even though the most recent projections from the Social Security trustees show that the program can pay full scheduled benefits with no changes whatsoever for a quarter century. Even after that point, the program would always be able to pay a higher benefit than what current retirees receive.

Third Way's crisis argument hinges on the fact that the program is paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes. In other words, it is relying on interest from the $2.6 trillion trust fund that it has built up over the last quarter century. To term this a crisis would be like saying that Bill Gates had a crisis because he dipped into his $50 billion in assets to build some new play houses for his kids. The trust fund was built up for the explicit purpose of supporting the program. It makes no sense to say that using it is a crisis.

It is also worth noting that even if we waited until 2036 and the program actually faced a shortfall, the amount of additional revenue needed to sustain the program's full benefits past this shortfall would be trivial compared to costs like the increase in military spending associated with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The occasional mistatement of fact could be accepted as sloppiness, but this constant harping on the US Social Security program as being "bankrupt" and the "need" to cut benefits and raise SS taxes is criminal. It has created the impression in the thirtysomethings that they will not be able to count on SS and it has put fear into older Americans that SS won't be there for them. This is all part of a concerted plot by the political right to destroy "socialism" in America. They want to get back to the good old day when workers were impoverished and you could offer peanuts and have people fighting each other for the chance to get that job. It is cruel and vicious what the rich and the political right are doing to destroy America.

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