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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Post Continues Jihad Against Social Security and Medicare

Post Continues Jihad Against Social Security and Medicare

Friday, 10 May 2013 09:21

The Washington Post continued to use its news section to advance its agenda for cutting Social Security and Medicare. It headlined an AP article on how these programs have not been cut by the sequester, "entitlement programs thrive amid gridlock, shifting money from younger generations to older."

The headline and the article wrongly imply that cuts to programs will benefit the young and increase economic growth. This is not true. The proximate cause for these cuts is a decision by political leaders to have lower budget deficits. The headline would have more accurately read "pursuit of deficit reduction is taking away money from young."

The notion of a shift to older generations is especially bizarre because none of the programs benefiting the elderly have been expanded notably in recent years. (The Medicare drug benefit is being made more generous, but the cost is covered by reduced payments to drug companies.) The assertion of a redistribution to the elderly would be like claiming there has been a redistribution to people living in North after reporting on a crop failure in the South. Certainly the fact that the South is worse off means that the North is relatively better off, but to describe this as a redistribution to the North is highly misleading, as is the claim of a redistribution to the elderly.

Also, even within whatever deficit targets are set one could just as credibly say that there has been a redistribution from children to Wall Street banks since the Wall Street banks are using their political power to block any effort to tax their financial speculation. Such a tax could easily cover the cost of the programs that are now being cut. The Post has decided not to frame the issue this way.  

Comments (8)Add Comment
New And Improved
written by Jeffrey Stewart, May 10, 2013 10:40
This generational warfare is the new marketing campaign by the right wingers and their media collaborators out to destroy Social Security and Medicare. It's very effective precisely because it's marketing campaign. It sets up the problem of young people being harmed by government budget cuts. It appeals to their selfishness, not their better nature by provideing a scapegoat and a solution which is cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. Never mind that Social Security doesn't contribute one cent to the deficit and the debt and these aren't problems anyway. Then the campaign directs youthful anger at the elderly, society's most vulnerable by portraying them as parasites on the younger generation.

You have to admire this genius of right wingers. They are experts at this type of misdirection. It serves their interests directly and diverts attention from the unrelenting class war they're waging on the working class, young and old.
written by NWsteve, May 10, 2013 11:57
YES, Dr. Baker...WAPO subterfuge...

the AP, itself, headlines Charles Babington's "report" as:
"Entitlements' Unimpeded Growth Is Boon To Seniors"

the WAPO re-write first accents that so-called 'entitlements' are an exception to Washington-Gridlock, and then locks this down with a direct "generational-warfare" screed...

sadly typical...

* * * * * * * * * * * *

when the Koch Bro's nationwide purchases become manifest, the 'net may be the sole last refuge...

There is no tax constraint
written by Matt McOsker, May 10, 2013 1:02
There is not tax constraint. The government can keep both programs intact without raising taxes. All they lack is the political will and understanding of the mechanics. The programs are constrained only by productivity to provide healthcare and other services to older folks. The government can simply make the payments and issue debt increasing private sector savings to acquire the necessary services. The latter will also reduce the cost, because seniors won't be constrained, then it will be economical to bring more supply online, and prices will stabilize.
written by Jennifer, May 10, 2013 1:18
Can it be considered a good sign that the people who want to gut Social Security and Medicare are getting this shrill? Every word and phrasing in this article seems calculated to scream at the reader that these are crazy, out-of-control spending programs which are "growing". These two programs have hardly changed in the 50 some years since they started, the "growth" is really just population-which is quite easily managed by a number of mechanisms which of course are not mentioned in this article.
Oh The Humanity! The Deficit is Now in Decline! Redistribute This King Kong!
written by Last Mover, May 10, 2013 1:35
So the argument is no longer about the deficit itself as King Kong killer of the economy given it's actually in decline.

Now the claim has shifted to the enormous damage inflicted by a non-discretionary sequester that cuts everything across the board except two sacred cows of hypocritical entitlements, spared from the slash and burn sequester sword of King Kong the Austerion suddenly turned coward to cut even that dictated by the sequester itself.

Oh yeah baby, spare all that other commie, socialist, government deficit spending that has suddenly emerged as efficient, public goods and infrastructure good for the economy when compared with the twin evils of SS and Medicare that drag the economy down like a rock tied around the neck of the younger generation.

Where will King Kong the Austerion hunt next for criminal redistributionists takers after the older generation is vindicated as makers? Under a rock? Behind a tree?

How about looking in the goddamn mirror where the real redistributionists are in plain sight, takers from the 99% to the 1% takers who never earned a legitimate dime in their life that didn't depend on anti-competitive market power and crooked finance.
written by skeptonomist, May 10, 2013 2:55
If the large excess in the SS Trust Fund is not paid out by the time the last boomers are gone, there will have been a redistribution from the boomers who paid SS taxes (on wages and salaries under $114k) to those who would pay income taxes (on capital gains, interest and dividends as well as all salary) for the next 30 years or so. Of course the retired boomers will not be getting the benefits they have paid for, so that younger people can pay lower taxes, so there is a sort of downward age redistribution. I don't think I have ever seen this redistribution mentioned in the popular media or by most pundits who opine on SS.
So phony it hertz?
written by David, May 10, 2013 8:36
Okay. "Jihad." Brilliant. As carried out by the terrorist group I'll Kidya (aka the 1%). They expect to divide and conquer, but before you can divide you have to learn how to multiply, but to multiply, you have to learn how to add. But these bozos can't add. So we get ridiculous screed like this from the WaPo.
written by watermelonpunch, May 11, 2013 1:51
Promoting generational warfare seems particularly stupid.

Don't they know that the younger generations expect to one day get old?

And what's more that the younger generations now don't get pensions like the older generations did.

So can't we expect to see people who are retiring 10-20 years from now depending on social security & medicare even more so than the older folks now?

So wouldn't the vast majority of the younger generations have to be completely stupid to want to diminish social security & medicare? It would run contrary to their own interest... unless they all are planning to commit suicide at age 65 if they haven't won the lottery or somehow walked into great fortune by freak luck.

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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.