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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Why Is MSNBC's Heiress Unwilling to Talk About the Most Important Economic Issues Facing Her Generation

Why Is MSNBC's Heiress Unwilling to Talk About the Most Important Economic Issues Facing Her Generation

Saturday, 29 March 2014 21:47

Abby Huntsman, the daughter of Jon Huntsman, a millionaire and unsuccessful presidential candidate, seems determined to press the idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare, apparently unaware that people from her class have been doing the same for decades.

As I wrote in response to her previous diatribe, there is no way that paying for Social Security will have a major effect on the standard of living of people of Huntsman's age. Even if we resolved the projected shortfalls entirely by raising the payroll tax, as opposed to raising the cap on income subject to the tax, apply revenue from other sources, or any reductions in benefits, the necessary tax increase would be less than 10 percent of projected average wage growth over the next three decades.

The far greater risk to the living standards to the people of Huntsman's generation is the risk that we will continue to see the upward redistribution of income over the next three decades that we have seen over the last three decades. As a result of this upward redistribution of income, people like Ms. Huntsman's father have benefited enormously, while most workers have seen little or none of the gains from economic growth. If this pattern continues then most people in Ms. Huntsman's cohort will not fare well financially even if we eliminated their Social Security taxes altogether.

Huntsman points out that the burden from Medicare is far worse. This is due to the fact that health care costs per person in the United States are more than twice as high as the average for other wealthy countries, with nothing to show for it in terms of outcomes. This is why serious people focus on trying to bring our costs more in line with costs elsewhere in the world. This would likely come at the expense of doctors (who comprise one sixth of the richest one percent), drug companies, insurers, and other powerful interest groups who benefits from the waste in the health care system. (One simple method to reducing waste is to open up the sector to more trade.) The issue here is whether we look to reduce the quality of care received by seniors or whether we look to reduce the waste in the system that further enriches the rich.

Finally, anyone concerned about the plight of young people should be asking about global warming. Current trends in greenhouse gas emissions imply a world that will be suffering massive damage from global warming in two or three decades. Hundreds of millions of people will be facing risks to their livelihood and survival due to extreme weather, floods, and droughts. This will lead to large-scale social unrest in much of the world. That is likely to matter much more to most people of Abby Huntsman's generation than the possibility that their Social Security tax rate may increase by one or two percentage points.

Comments (14)Add Comment
Name = Opportunties
written by 99%, March 30, 2014 2:07
If you watch enough of Ms. Huntsman, you soon wonder if she got the job bc of her name or her solid credentials (at least critical thinking for the masses).

She first appeared as a guest in the 4Q12 during the last election cycle.

The only thing concerns her is her quick and direct path to her OWN nightly show.

It might happen sooner than later given her name recognition & a telegenic face. Who cares about actual credential.
agree with 99%
written by medgeek, March 30, 2014 7:42
As I said in response to Dean's first post, I'm afraid Abby is a pretty airhead.
The Certainty of an Attention Spanless Generation
written by Last Mover, March 30, 2014 9:42

Certainty has a particularly high value as a virtue in MSM for those without an attention span or the time to acquire one, like Abby Huntsman and her fans.

It's short and to the point, taking no more time than necessary say, to look up a place for lunch on the internet. The key for the sock puppets is to put a confident face on it that sells.

Abby Huntsman is clearly on a path to become a first responder spokesperson for the economic search and rescue industry, currently in great need for clarity provided with the confidence of certainty, as in:

Oh look. Over there. An approaching economic collapse caused by SS and Medicare, a known unknown, just like Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney said about weapons of mass destruction.

No matter how small the probability, it could happen, and America must be prepared at all cost - including the cost of facing other equal or more dangerous outcomes with much higher probability ... just so we can avoid this one ... that doesn't exist.

Better safe from something you do know won't happen anyway, than sorry from something you know has a far higher chance of happening ...

... because spending more time on it is just too burdensome and crowds out other high priority multitasking activities for the day doesn't it.
written by Pauley, March 30, 2014 10:46
Ah... methinks AH's intended "cohort" is not all those of her generation, but just those heirs, heiresses, wannabes and those who will rain their heritable goods upon them if they keep suckling upon this pap.
Right on, Abby, Low-rated comment [Show]
who comprise one sixth of the richest one percent
written by jim, March 30, 2014 11:05
i thought the figure was 1/3rd? you have referenced that 1/3rd of doctors are in the top 1 percent and the majority in top 3 pcnt...

also was looking at the bea gdp data and noticed 2 trillion out of 14 trillion is from dividends and interest and only 3% of population according to the survey of consumer finances live off of dividends and interest. crazy mismatch
written by Redwood Rhiadra, March 30, 2014 4:14
Jim: 1/3 is the number of *doctors* who are in the top 1%. 1/6 is the number of the *top 1%* who are doctors. These are perfectly compatible, e.g. 600 people, 3 doctors (one of whom is in the top 1%), 6 members of the top 1% (one of whom is that same doctor).
written by Frank, March 30, 2014 4:17
Worth mentioning that her real inheritance will derive from her billionaire grandfather, who invented the clamshell package for the BigMac.
written by fuller schmidt, March 30, 2014 4:36
@patmacauley Let's guess that this your first visit to this website and that you have a meager to no understanding of economics. Run away quickly if you want to keep your delusion intact.
written by Pat MacAuley, March 30, 2014 5:44
@fullerschmidt - You guessed wrong. I'm a regular reader of this blog and I have commented before. However, this is the first time I disagreed with the great Dean. Considering how Dean loves to dish out criticism, I'm that can't take any.
written by Steve Lightner, March 30, 2014 6:29
Thanks for stepping in and pointing out the facts. I did my best, but what do I know: http://www.onthecontrary.us/20...-huntsman/
What Huntsman fails to acknowledge or understand
written by Donna Gratehouse, March 30, 2014 8:23
Is that money cut from Social Security and Medicare is NOT going to be given to young people. I had this argument with some "child advocates" recently, who were pushing the "OMG the government spends 7X as much on elderly as children!" talking point. I kept trying to explain to them that children were not going to be the beneficiaries of cutting spending on the elderly, that rich people were, but it was no use.

And young adults who are eager to cut Social Security because it's "expensive" might want to consider how expensive it would be to have to support their elderly parents.
written by djb, March 31, 2014 9:05
what percentage of doctors are in the top 0.01 percent who have made all the income gains

what percent are in the 0.1 percent??

and what percent of doctors family incomes are in the top 1%??

also what about net worth that doesnt count for income??

at any rate, i hate to see people who actually work for their income , such as primary care docs

running interference for the top 0.01 percent who are by far the ones most benefitting from this major redistribution to the wealthiest

Note to Paul
written by John Parks, April 03, 2014 6:39
When our government is being run by bloated egos, drunk with power, and blinded by a belief in their personal omniscience I can humbly offer some words of wisdom:


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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.