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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Post Really Really Wants to Cut Social Security Benefits

The Post Really Really Wants to Cut Social Security Benefits

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Friday, 06 August 2010 05:06

The Post wants cuts so badly that they just can't resist using its news section to push its agenda. In an article on the release of the new trustees reports for Medicare and Social Security, the article notes the projected shortfall in these programs and then tells readers: "but Democrats and Republicans have disagreed about the best approach and shied away from the political pain of paring benefits for older Americans in the highly popular entitlements."

A serious newspaper would point out that both Democrats and Republicans have shied away from any changes that would substantially improve the financial health of Social Security. This would include measures like raising the wage cap on the Social Security payroll tax. It would also include raising the tax rate itself, which poll after poll has shown is more popular than cutting benefits. A serious newspaper would also point out that the projected shortfall is far in the future and that there is no obvious reason that Congress should take steps to address it any time soon. A fix comparable to the 1983 fix could be put in place in 2030 and leave the program fully solvent until close to the end of the century.

The piece should also have noted that the Medicare Trustees projections show that Congress just eliminated 80 percent of the projected shortfall in the Medicare program. If this proves accurate, then this would be an enormous accomplishment.

 

Comments (3)Add Comment
We have been there before:
written by AndrewDover, August 06, 2010 9:35

http://www.brookings.edu/opini...px says:

"The 1983 rescue was rooted in four conditions that do not currently prevail."

First, a real and pressing deadline for action...

Second, both sides .. agreed on a single estimate of the size of the problem

Third, negotiators had the political cover to form a consensus ...

Fourth, both sides agreed to mutual sacrifice,
...
written by pete, August 06, 2010 9:43
Dean, using your logic the other day, there is no need at all to have a social security crisis. According to your math, the "interest" that the U.S. "pays" into the "fund" on the "bonds" is income into the "fund." I guess instead of owing $100 to the fund, then the U.S. owes $103 or so. This makes the fund bigger by 3%. Cool. Well, extending that logic, just have the U.S. increase the "interest" it pays on the "bonds" and the "fund" will be self sustaining. Why didn't they think of this earlier!
News blackout worked
written by Bruce Webb, August 06, 2010 10:12
The total lack of official notice that three Cabinet Secretaries and the Commissioner of Social Security would be releasing two Reports on programs that effect everyone's paycheck and current or future retirement until Dept of Labor had an 11AM press advisory for a Noon event is a little odd. In conjunction with the four month delay it is more than a little odd.

Both the WaPo story and the slightly longer one in the NYT could have been (and in the former case probably was) dictated by AEI.

I just found the CNN story and it is no better calling the situation "grim". In truth Social Security showed that not only can it take a punch from the recession but actually emerge with a smaller projected payroll gap going forward (2.00% to 1.92% the same as 2001 levels). In truth this was a very positive Report, certainly with better numbers than I was expecting. You have to wonder if a depletion date moved to 2035 or maybe a payroll gap up to 2.08% might have gotten more play.

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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.

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