The Washington Post ran a startling story on their front page yesterday that would scare the crap out of most people -- if you didn't already understand how Social Security actually works, and that the Village elites will say just about anything to
October 31, 2011

The Washington Post ran a startling story on their front page yesterday that would scare the crap out of most people -- if you didn't already understand how Social Security actually works, and that the Village elites will say just about anything to destroy it under the guise of "saving" it. Rich Eskow did a great job pulling it apart in this scathing HuffPost piece (you should go read it all):

If we had the space we'd deconstruct the entire piece. Instead we'll use a selected sample, beginning with the first line:

" Last year, as a debate over the runaway national debt gathered steam in Washington, Social Security passed a treacherous milestone. It went "cash negative."

Holy cow, that's a lot of deception in one sentence. First, the sentence conflates the national debt with Social Security. But Social Security is expressly forbidden by law from contributing to the debt! It must be entirely self-sustaining. So why connect the two in one sentence?

And that "treacherous milestone" isn't not treacherous at all. The plan's huge surplus, currently $2.6 trillion, was amassed because planners know that baby boomers would retire someday. That supposedly "treacherous" switch to "cash negative" has been anticipated for decades.

"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."

No. Social Security is entirely self-funded. This is a falsehood. And note the use of the word "sucking."

"Replacing cash lost to a one-year payroll tax holiday will require another $105 billion."

The President and Congress agreed to use the payroll taxes that fund Social Security as the mechanism for a tax break. That was a bad idea, in my opinion, precisely because it opened the program up to this kind of deception. But it's misleading at best to complain that this is adding to the nation's budget woes.

"Lawmakers in both parties are ducking the issue, wary of agitating older voters and their advocates in Washington, who have long targeted politicians who try to tamper with federal retirement benefits."

The word "ducking" is straight out of the Pete Peterson playbook. If you're not willing to back unnecessary cuts to Social Security to please billionaire political patrons like Peterson, you're somehow a cowardly politician.

Another Peterson trick is to ignore disabled recipients of Social Security and focus on the elderly, painting them as demanding, selfish, and cruel for expecting the benefits they'd paid for all their working lives. (Remember Alan Simpson's "greedy geezers" remark?) In Montgomery's case, these aggressive oldsters are "agitated" and have a practice of "targeting politicians" who cross them.

"In his February budget request, Obama ignored the Social Security blueprint put forth by his own bipartisan panel on debt reduction."

Get it? He didn't reject it; he ignored it. Coward. (Ed. note: The bi-partisan panel didn't agree on anything. What was released was the co-chairmen's report.)

"Social Security is hardly the biggest drain on the budget."

That's how one makes oneself reasonable, while at the same time reinforcing the lie. Social Security doesn't drain the budget at all.

"Many Democrats have largely chosen to ignore the shortfall ..."

See Obama, above.

"Last week, Reid softened his stand, backing a ... change in the Social Security inflation index ... "

Modest? Dean Baker can clear that one up for you. (He also explains the sleight of hand that's used by throwing Medicare into the equation.)

"Even that modest change to Social Security is drawing fire, however, from a powerful network of organizations representing the elderly, unionized workers and traditional liberals."

The reporter marginalizes groups working to protect Social Security as "traditional liberals," which in DC is like calling them "flat-earthers." Yet polls prove this is not a "traditional liberal" position: 75% of Republicans and 76% of Tea Party members oppose cutting Social Security benefits to balance the budget.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We are currently migrating to Disqus

On May 14, 2022, we started migrating our comments from Insticator back to Disqus. During this transition period, some posts will have Insticator and some Disqus. For more information on the transition, as well as information regarding old C&L accounts, please see this post.

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.