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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Can the "Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid" Crew Look at Their Own Damn Charts?

Can the "Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid" Crew Look at Their Own Damn Charts?

Sunday, 02 May 2010 16:44
Time Magazine's Adam Sorenson tells readers that: "Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security costs will catch up to the entirety of federal revenue as a percentage of GDP in coming decades if things don't change." However the graph included in the piece shows Medicare and Medicaid costs growing rapidly, while Social Security costs just edge upward slightly. The chart even carries the headline: "Medicare and Medicaid Expected to Grow Rapidly as a Share of the Economy." But, hey, when you're on a crusade to cut Social Security, why worry that the facts don't support your case.
Comments (5)Add Comment
written by izzatzo, May 02, 2010 7:22
Bubba, what'd I tell you about the constant term for SS-to-GDP in those regressional equations? I told you to leave it OUT of the charts didn't I? If we lose another client because of these humiliating no-brainers by Baker, you're going back to doing traffic and weather charts with Scary Faces for traffic jams and thunderstorms.
written by Thomas Dooley, May 03, 2010 7:49
Really Dean! Aren't you being too hard on Adam Sorenson? You can plainly see he's in a job that pretty much anyone can do so it isn't like he can afford to rock the boat over a little thing like reality.

Besides, our boy Adam doesn't know anything about numbers, graphs and charts. That's his charm as a data analyst. No matter what the data says Adam will not veer from the approved narrative. He doesn't care how foolish he looks. Number twiddlers like Dean Baker can howl all they want, but Adam knows who signs his paycheck and it isn't Dean. If the powers that be want 2 plus 2 to equal 10 then so be it. They're paying for it, not Dean Baker. What's the problem?
Chart interpretation
written by AndrewDover, May 03, 2010 8:12
You would be right if the article actually ever supported Social Security cuts, and used that chart to support its claim. But instead it simply said:

"Addressing the problem is not as simple as entitlement reform -- the two main factors at play in the explosion of Medicare and Medicaid costs are health care inflation and an aging population; finding out which cost controls from the new health care law work and aggressively applying them could dramatically change the picture."

written by Eric, May 03, 2010 12:45
When is going to sink in that it does not matter what shape Social Security is actually in? What matters is what shape the aggregate public budget is in and which programs have the highest support going forward. Social Security can be in perfect shape with respect to its own revenues and expenditures and $500B (or more) can be taken from it quite easily should Congress decide that other priorites need that money more. You can hate on Pete P all you want, but the guy is providing a valuable service for SS if he serves to focus support for SS. Later this decade it isn't going to matter how well SS is doing against its plan, all that will matter is how much support it has going forward.
Stop Raiding Social Security
written by D.H. Fabian, May 07, 2010 10:22
Social Security has been targeted by the rich ever since its beginning, and what we're seeing today is merely the latest tactic to raid Social Security funds. Not many years ago, we heard a great deal about the massive Social Security surplus. Our political leadership was very eager to "borrow" this surplus -- plenty of money there, the surplus far exceeded what would ever be needed, and the money borrowed would be returned. Very predictably (we saw the same strategy with welfare), the program is suddenly in crisis and requires dramatic "reforms" to remain solvent (on the way to elimination of the program entirely).

Social Security can meet requirements IF we once again prohibit government from raiding these funds. This money belongs to the people, and whatever was borrowed must be repaid. We might have to postpone some "tax relief" for the richest -- or, as shocking as it might sound, restore pre-Reagan tax rates for the rich. We might need to postpone an invasion or two. But the country can survive either scenario.

What we can't do is continue the plan that has been in place since the 1980s, where the focus has been on enriching the wealthy while engaging in serial wars. It is our government's obligation to restore Social Security funds. Period.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.