Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lies, Damned Lies, Conservative Media and Social Security

Repeat after me, “Liberal Media Bias.” Keep saying this two or three thousand times per day until your brain turns into red state mush and under no circumstances ever look into any factual information as this will undermine your mantra.

Now, repeat after me “Social Security is backed by worthless IOU’s.” Repeat this two or three thousand times per day out loud until your family, coworkers and fellow church members repeat it back to you. Once again, do look at any factual information and remember to physically assault anyone who dares question your mantra.

I like to review conservative web sites because they take their talking points straight from the Bush Administration just like talk radio. I was looking at NewsMax today and they referenced an article at Townhall.com. Townhall.com is the ministry of propaganda for the Heritage Foundation which, in turn, acts a private ministry of propaganda for the Bush administration. That is an awful lot of propaganda. Here is a cute little whopper from the good people at Townhall about the solvency of the Social Security Trust fund:

Social Security is the national retirement plan. But, starting in 2018, there’s nothing there but I.O.U.s.
That’s probably not what you’ve heard. Various reports claim Social Security is safe and secure. In their annual report this year, the program’s trustees insisted it would be able to pay benefits through 2042. A recent Congressional Budget Office report is even more optimistic. It says Social Security is solid through 2052.

But these reports pretend there is money in the Social Security trust fund, which actually is all trust and no fund.

The fact is, Social Security is “pay as you go.” It always has been. That means it relies on today’s taxpayers to pay today’s benefits. Which works well as long as there are more taxpayers than beneficiaries. Indeed, for years we’ve been taking in more than we’ve been paying out. The extra money is supposed to go into that trust fund. It doesn’t.

Instead, the Treasury spends the difference on roads, sex-education programs, parks and whatever else the federal government buys. The trust fund gets an I.O.U., which is stored in a fireproof safe to be made good some day with future tax money.

The IOU’s that conservatives are belittling are US Treasury securities. These securities are what the Republicans have been borrowing against like drunken sailors on shore leave with a visa card. Treasury securities are also the basis upon which the return on all other securities, both debt and equity are based world wide. I don’t know about you, but I get a little nervous when the same people who borrow $2 trillion using US treasury securities in 4 years suddenly act like these same securities are just a bunch of worthless IOU’s. I get especially nervous when my retirement is at stake. The social security trust fund has $1.5 trillion in treasury securities that paid approximately $80 billion in interest in 2003. Not bad for an IOU. But reading what Townhall had to say, I get the impression that our conservative friends don’t plan on making good on their debts after 2018.

Perhaps the best way to reform Social Security is to get rid of conservatives.


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