Harold Ford Jr. Has A Bit Of Trouble With The Concept Of Math

Harold Ford Jr. (D-Wall Street) and The Washington Post's Ezra Klein had a bit of a back and forth on Morning Joe earlier today and apparently he had a problem with the concept of math when crunching numbers doesn't fit into his preconceived
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Harold Ford Jr. (D-Wall Street) and The Washington Post's Ezra Klein had a bit of a back and forth on Morning Joe earlier today and apparently he had a problem with the concept of math when crunching numbers doesn't fit into his preconceived political assumptions. When Ezra Klein said you could take care of the shortfall for Social Security for the next seventy five years by raising the cap on payroll taxes, Ford wanted to argue with him.

Heaven forbid we can't get a little "shared sacrifice" from the likes of Ford to keep some lower income retirees afloat. Can't have that... oh no. But he loves the idea of means testing it, which we know would just turn it into a welfare program. And we all know what conservatives think about welfare.

Ezra responds here -- What’s hard about deficit reduction isn’t the math:

I got into a bit of a back-and-forth with Harold Ford on “Morning Joe” today over entitlements. Ford said he “didn’t like my math,” but the question with math, of course, is not whether you like it, but whether it’s right.

So let’s check it out. Start with Social Security: I said that the size of the shortfall over the next 75 year is 0.7 percent of GDP. You could pretty much wipe that out by allowing the payroll tax to apply to wages over $107,000 (Ford seemed to think the payroll tax applies to earnings up to $116,000 now, but he’s wrong about that). CBO estimates “the 75-year actuarial balance [of Social Security] to be 0.6 percent of gross domestic product.” I’ve seen 0.7 percent of GDP elsewhere, but I’ll take that as a slight strike against me.

As for eliminating the payroll tax cap do, “this option would improve the 75-year actuarial balance by 0.6 percentage points of GDP and extend the trust fund exhaustion date to 2083.” Come 2083, you’d have to do something else to shore up Social Security. But I’d be pretty happy to secure Social Security for the next 75 years. Rep. Ted Deutch, incidentally, has legislation to do exactly that.

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