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Ear to the Ground

Wolf Blitzer’s Panic Room

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Posted on Aug 11, 2010
Flickr / silas216 (CC-BY-SA)

“The Situation Room” is a familiar venue for the kind of hysteria and nonsense that has become the hallmark of television news, so it comes as no surprise that host Wolf Blitzer and a cohort of CNN’s loudest Chicken Littles have declared Social Security at “the final tipping point” and “broke” despite $2.5 trillion in reserves and a bright future.

Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting:

The August 5 reports from the Social Security and Medicare trustees declared Social Security’s long-term financial outlook mostly unchanged from the previous year, and the projections for Medicare were greatly improved from previous forecasts. But on CNN’s Situation Room, this news amounted to a crisis in Social Security and a threat to the country.

On the August 5 broadcast, host Wolf Blitzer announced: “Social Security reaches the final financial tipping point. The system is now paying out more than it’s taking in. Will Washington do anything anytime soon to fix this problem?” Blitzer was referring to the fact that this year Social Security is paying out more in benefits than it receives in tax revenue—a mostly meaningless fact, given the system’s $2.5 trillion long-term surplus (CEPR’s Social Security Byte, 8/5/10). But Blitzer turned to a single guest, Beltway fixture and former presidential adviser David Gergen, to echo his alarmism.

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By wildflower, August 13, 2010 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Re Rico, Suave: “Are you saying that without SocSec there would be no geezers in pink hair and polyester in Phoenix and Pompano? What better agrument for repeal!”

You’ve done it now, Rico.  .  . No more trips to Phoenix, Pompano, Palm Springs, and down the Nile for you.  .  . And when your hair turns pink don’t come crying to liberals and progressives for help.  .  . It’s my understanding “the curse of the pink hair” is permanent and there is nothing anyone can do – and rightfully so.

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By rico, suave, August 13, 2010 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

fiftygigs:

“BEFORE Social Security even existed, old people were just ROLLING in the dough!”

Are you saying that without SocSec there would be no geezers in pink hair and polyester in Phoenix and Pompano? What better agrument for repeal!

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By wildflower, August 12, 2010 at 11:13 pm Link to this comment

Re Rico, Suave:  “It’s a shame that some progressives think people are too stupid or vulnerable to Gordon Gecko to look after their own money.”

Hmmmm .  .  Speaking of greedy, lying, self-serving “Gordon Gecko” types, haven’t you ever wondered why so many of these wealthy “granny bashers” like Peter Peterson are so obsessed with our Social Security? Now, Rico, talk about a sneaky, low-down, self-serving “Gordon Gecko” at work:

“.  .  .  I recall hearing Mr. Peterson pontificate for an hour, completely unchallenged, on a major public radio talk show. At one point, he assured his audience, with reference to the solvency of Social Security, “trust me, there is no trust fund.” Mr. Peterson repeated this lie verbatim, just in case the meaning escaped his audience.

Of course, there is a Social Security trust fund that holds more than $2 trillion in government bonds. Under the law, these bonds are to be repaid from general revenue, which comes almost entirely from the personal and corporate income tax. In other words, the bonds held by the Social Security trust fund, which are supposed to pay the Social Security benefits of retired workers, are effectively tax obligations for wealthy people like Mr. Peterson.

If the bonds held by the Social Security trust fund are never repaid, Mr. Peterson and/or his heirs could save tens of millions of dollars from their future taxes. It shouldn’t be surprising he is trying to convince the public that the trust fund doesn’t really exist.” [Dean Baker]

http://www.alternet.org/economy/65341/?page=1

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By FiftyGigs, August 12, 2010 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

“It’s a shame that some progressives think people are too stupid or vulnerable to Gordon Gecko to look after their own money.”

Yeah, dumb.

I mean, back BEFORE Social Security even existed, old people were just ROLLING in the dough! Not like now where you see destitute ole people everywhere. Poor things. Forced to wear polyester. Doomed to live in, gasp! Arizona.

Every night, I get down on my knees and pray to God to please, please spare me from having to retire in Florida! All that sunshine. Oh, the humanity!


wildflower, outstanding article. Thank you.

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By rico, suave, August 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment

ohmygodna:

Sorry about your family tree. I admire your admission that you were a dissembling bastard for 30 years. That takes strength. Glad you’re back in the world.

“Free Market Fundamentalism” had a massive stroke in October 1929. It died in 1933. You erect a straw man. And if anybody wants to raid the Trust Fund it’s the liberals.

“Wall Street holds 41% of profits and makes NOTHING.” What does that even mean?

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By rico, suave, August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

wildflower:

I applaude your openmindedness. You recognize that Social Security, AS IT STANDS, will be broke by 2036, the accepted figure. Sure, a new Greenspan Commission could fix it, but it will mean higher taxes, longer work lives and delayed payments, just like the first fix did.

When I started working, the max deduction was something like $775 PER YEAR. When I retired it was well north of $5000, a huge increase, even adjusting for inflation. When I started working, I was told I could receive full benefits starting at 65. When I retired, I was told I’d have to wait til 67 1/2. These trends will continue if SS is to survive. I expect to be dead by 2036, so I personally have no stake in the game. But my children and especially, my granddaughter are totally screwed under the current dispensation. The “Trust Fund” is an accounting gimmick. The return on investment is ludicrously low, which is what prompts conservatives to push for some level of stock/bond market participation.

It’s a shame that some progressives think people are too stupid or vulnerable to Gordon Gecko to look after their own money. People who have invested in the stock market are generally better off for their effort than those who had the chance but didn’t.

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By Carl, August 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

Wolfie is an Israeli Mossad agent. Just google his bio.

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By omygodnotagain, August 12, 2010 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

rico
I worked in the media for 30 years, they are whores, propaganda machines. Their interests are those of their paymasters. Right now the paymaster wants to get its hands on the Social Security Trust so it can play more rounds of Casino Capitalism and pay themselves huge bonuses. “Moved to the left”, what nonsense, the Free Market Fundamentalism of the last 30 years failed catastrophically but you still hear the brainless free market fundamentalist bleat. Germany didn’t jump on the free market fundamentalism, it still has its social net in place, and it is not in debt, in fact it will soon become a powerhouse again. Amazing what those regulated markets can do. We need to dump the free market fundamentalists. We have move one tick in that direction, we need major overhaul. Wall Street holds 41% of profits and makes NOTHING, it is all funny money. You cannot sell nothing. In the 1950’s that figure was 10%.Cap their ridiculous salaries like the EU did, have the SEC by the thousands clean out the place, throw a few hundred in prison for fraud and leave Social Security alone

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By wildflower, August 12, 2010 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

RE Rico Suave: “On every count you are whistling past the graveyard.”       
RE Diman: “Wildflower, appears to be an expert in mythology.”

Hmmmm.  .  .  Sounds like the two of you have been watching too many episodes of “Wolfie” and/or “Fox News.”  Maybe you should try reading or listen to somebody more reasonable for a change –  Dean Baker is a worthy example.  I thought his response to a recent WaPo article was on target:

“.  .  . The falloff in Social Security tax revenue is a warning that the economy is seriously depressed due to the collapse of the housing bubble. Double digit unemployment leads to all sorts of problems, including the strains that it places on pension funds like Social Security.

In a sane newspaper the next sentence would be pointing out the urgent need to get back to full employment.  .  .

. . . The Post may not be familiar with the way Congress works. . . , but it tends . . . wait until issues require action.

They would know this if they had heard about the Greenspan Commission, which was established in 1982 to deal with Social Security’s last crisis. It produced a set of fixes which is now expected to keep the program solvent for 54 years, and no one missed a check.

While it would not be desirable to wait until the system was literally facing a shortfall, as was the case when the Greenspan Commission, there is little obvious harm to waiting now in terms of the program’s finances. A Greenspan Commission size fix put in place in 2030 would leave the program fully solvent for most of the rest of the century.

There is also a . . .  reason for delay. The opponents of Social Security have been spending huge amounts of money deliberately promoting misinformation. Peter Peterson, the richest and most prominent opponent, has repeatedly asserted that the Social Security trust fund does not exist. .  . 

That is not a good environment in which to debate substantial changes to the country’s most important social program. Since there are several decades until the program faces any real problems, it is entirely reasonable for those who support the program to focus on educating the public about the program’s financial health and to seek to delay any major changes until the Peterson-type misinformation campaigns have been defeated.”

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/beat-the-press/

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By rico, suave, August 12, 2010 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

wildflower:

On every count you are whistling past the graveyard.

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By diman, August 12, 2010 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

WILDFLOWER appears to be an expert in mythology, failing to understand that if your economy is in the shitter there is no way the social security system prospers, it is a part of an organism that experiences a systemic collapse, its failure is imminent.

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By gerard, August 12, 2010 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

Pre-midterm Republican propaganda.

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By Hammond Eggs, August 12, 2010 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

CNN (Cowards Nerds Necrophiliacs) has decided to pitch itself a few millimeters to the left of Fux News.  This, they have decided, is the hot gravy they want to dip their bread into.  This is where the money is in that fiction market known as the MSM.  Wolf Blister is the real life equivalent of the character Ash in the film “Alien” - a robot cleverly disguised as a human being.  But then, you can say that about every jackass entertainer disguised as a “journalist”.

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By wildflower, August 12, 2010 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

Since it takes little effort to sort out the reality about Social Security, it’s reasonable to conclude that Wolf is either lazy or plain unethical:

“Myth: Social Security is going broke.

Reality: There is no Social Security crisis. By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.3 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a ‘T’). It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.1 After 2037, it’ll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits . . . Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

Myth: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer.

Reality: This is a red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than did 70 years ago . . .  those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut.

Myth: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.

Reality: Social Security doesn’t need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here’s a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share. If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come.5 Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income.6 But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

Myth: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs

Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn’t full of IOUs, it’s full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.7 The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market—which would have been disastrous—but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.

Myth: Social Security adds to the deficit

Reality: It’s not just wrong—it’s impossible! By law, Social Security funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can’t add one penny to the deficit.”

http://pol.moveon.org/ssmyths/index.html

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By rico, suave, August 12, 2010 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

fiftygigs:
“one cannot possibly listen to the broad litany of significant issues that have been tackled AND MOVED LEFTWARD by this administration so quickly and with so little real objection by the majority.”

So little objection? Are you serious?

And I dare say, conservatives are less “down” than they’ve been in at least six years.

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By FiftyGigs, August 12, 2010 at 5:00 am Link to this comment

The only thing Gibbs did wrong was to put himself in a situation which allowed the liberal media to absolve itself. Message-wise, he was right.

For example, by the time the Financial Reform bill was passed, the liberal media knee-jerk reaction was ingrained to the point that “news” of the passage basically followed the line of “Oh, no, reform passed and it doesn’t have this and let’s analyze why Obama isn’t considering that… and here’s our ‘expert’ on what Obamas’ doing wrong… So, expert, why is this a bad bill?”

Except listen VERY carefully, and you’d eventually hear one quiet, brave soul utter: “Understand, there’s nothing WRONG with the bill…” or “It’s a step in the right direction…” and then launch into another tirade about Obamas’ supposed failures.

Liberal media are playing to a singular message, and citizens who want to be informed about this should reach Gibbs’ own clarification. Yeah, yeah, he was “walking back” his blunt statement, but one cannot possibly listen to the broad litany of significant issues that have been tackled AND MOVED LEFTWARD by this administration so quickly and with so little real objection by the majority.

Well, except for the whiny liberal media, catering to the self-anointed intellectuals of the movement who have such a better understanding of the solutions that the mere bureaucrats THEY ELECTED.

Hummm, sounds a lot like conservative media.

In my opinion, Gibbs should have broadened his attack to include the ACTUAL base—notice how the liberal media neatly moved his statement as an attack upon ‘professional liberals’ to ‘all liberals’?—because the liberal movement is suffering from severe atrophy of legislative prowess. Liberals DO seem defeated, as though a law passed is the absolute last time liberals will ever have a shot at making legislation about that issue ever again.

Their conclusion is inevitable: there’s no point in continuing to participate, because we can’t do more about health care now, or finance reform, or the environment, or nuclear weapons, or jobs.

Folks, fight means fight! After the smallest victory, come back fighting. If you don’t kick conservatives when they’re down, just exactly when do you plan to take them on?

And, liberal media? Nobody wants you to *gag* betray your high principles. Reporting news is one thing. Commenting how people should think about the news… that’s all yours, and we know it.

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By eir, August 12, 2010 at 2:11 am Link to this comment

And, we need to go to war with Iran.

Satan’s little helper hard at work.

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