It was the biggest on-air fail since Melania copied Michelle Obama's speech.
Debate moderator Elaine Quijano prefaced her sole questions on the economy and Social Security by crediting them to the “nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.”
Their twitter handle is @DebtHawks. ThinkProgress notes:
So who is the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget? They are probably the leading advocacy group promoting the idea that federal deficits are out of control and shrinking them should be a top priority. Their board members include both Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of a government commission that tried and failed to advance various proposals supported by deficit hawks in 2010. Pete Peterson, a billionaire who is probably the nation’s leading funder of anti-deficit advocacy, is also a board member.
The Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission people? The debt hawks who want to cut spending and taxes at the same time? Seriously?
No questions on jobs. No questions on infrastructure. But take that question from Billionaire Pete Peterson. After all, he tweeted it to you, Elaine.
Oh look, 91% of people who answered their landline were unwilling to say "No, I don't want to hear about the national debt" because they didn't want to appear stupid. But it is a stupid question, Elaine. The national debt is not the problem with our economy. It's a very low priority in an age of zero interest rates and achingly slow economic and job growth. Not to mention huge income inequality. Business Reporter Ben Walsh puts it this way...
That notion that debt is unquestionably bad and must be reduced is directly connected to the problem with Quijano’s question on Social Security, which cited as an immutable fact that the program is off the fiscal rails and faces certain benefit cuts. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) picked up that loaded question and said that a Hillary Clinton administration would raise the wage cap (currently only income up to $118,500 is subject to Social Security taxes).↓ Story continues below ↓
It’s not crazy to worry about future obligations through programs like Social Security ― and whether the federal government has lined up enough resources to pay for them. Raising taxes on high-income Americans is one way to ensure that the government has more money available to help seniors retire and stay out of poverty.
But Social Security is not in crisis, as commonly assumed and Quijano implied. The program is pretty close to fiscally sound now, and modest tweaks ― like lifting a cap on the Social Security payroll tax ― would be enough to take care of shortfalls.