If ABC held a debate and no one actually understood the real issues, would anyone care? It would appear not, since This Week's little Newseum debate jumps right out of the gate with the wrong frames, wrong issues, and wrong questions. There's so much fail in one hour that it's difficult to even know where to start, but let's go with the beginning, where Tapper seems to intentionally frame the discussion in false terms with false premises.
After ringing the scare bells over the 2013 "Fiscal Cliff", he moves on to "entitlements" -- his word, not mine. On this, the week of Social Security's 77th anniversary of never missing a payment and creating a society where there is at least some baseline for a life past retirement, Tapper instead frames the entire debate around some mythical world where we did not pay into this social safety net for the duration of our employment.
And that brings us to the second time bomb. As the baby boomers retire, the commitments we've made to seniors will balloon. Over the next 75 years, Medicare will run a deficit of more than $30 trillion. That's two times the entire size of the United States economy.
Social Security will run out of money in just 20 years.
In short, if nothing is done, our national debt poses a clear and present danger to the United States.
And, yes, politicians have been warning about the nation's debt for decades, but already this year, we've seen economies destroyed by debt -- overseas in Greece, Italy and Spain. And here at home, with Stockton, California; San Bernardino.
So the big question -- are we next?
is the U.S. headed toward bankruptcy?
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TAPPER: So with that, let's start with our first topic, which will be entitlement spending, specifically, can we fix the nation's finances without cutting entitlement benefits?
That's Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, other mandatory spending programs.
Watch the video and repeat after me: Disaster Capitalism TV. I cannot recall a less factual and more dramatic opening, and yeah, I'm looking at YOU, Jake Tapper. What kind of dishonest tripe is this?
New Rule: Quit using right wing tropes
Social Security is a retirement plan. It is not an "entitlement" in the sense that we're a bunch of little piggies with our snout in the bowl snuffling for more. It is part of the tools we have used for our entire working lives to plan for retirement. Start with that. Calling Social Security and Medicare "entitlements" is a right-wing frame intended to make them sound like some kind of handout. They are EARNED. They are earned with the sweat of every working person's brow. Someone should tell Tapper that.
Next, lose the whole nonsense whine about the baby boomers. Boomers' retirement benefits under Social Security were accounted for and funded from the Reagan Administration forward. No one but Jake Tapper, evidently, is surprised that baby boomers are retiring now. This, by the way, is why some of us in that generation have to wait until we're 66 or 67 to retire. We were staggered in order to extend the life of the fund without forcing higher payroll taxes.
It should also be known that if the wage base upon which Social Security benefits are funded had been raised instead of frozen for several years, there would be more money in the fund. However, Tapper is simply incorrect about it being "out of money in 20 years."
That's false. As in a total falsehood, as in a lie, Romney-style. Tapper should have to retract that publicly and apologize for his scare tactics.
Here, straight from the 2012 Trustees' report, is the projection on Social Security:
After 2020, Treasury will redeem trust fund assets in amounts that exceed interest earnings until exhaustion of trust fund reserves in 2033, three years earlier than projected last year. Thereafter, tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2086.
So no, Jake Tapper. Social Security is not "bankrupt" in 20 years. I would like for you to find one other government program that is able to provide full benefits through 2033, and 75% through 2086 without any change to it. Just one. Go ahead.
While I'm waiting for Jake to find that, I'll grow older, grayer and be eligible for Social Security payments because there isn't any other program as successful as Social Security.
Jake actually challenges the panel to take on the Medicare debate, but that's a topic for a different post. For this one, what is important is that right out of the gate, before Grover or Goolsbee or anyone has an opportunity to say anything, the entire debate is framed in right-wing terms that are INACCURATE.
How can we have an honest debate about anything if we can't get so-called journalists to actually start with a fact-based approach?