Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Ginned Up Hysterics About a Fake "Entitlement Crisis"

Dean Baker takes the Washington Post's truly awful business columnist Robert Samuelson (no relation to economist Paul Samuelson) to the woodshed for what can only be construed as either profound ignorance, deliberate deceptions or some disturbing combination of the two:
Deep Thinker!
Today's column by Robert Samuelson tries to tell us that Franklin Roosevelt would be appalled by the current state of the Social Security program. Of course, he produces not a single iota of evidence to support this position, although it is very clear that Samuelson doesn't like Social Security.
Samuelson begins by telling us that:
 "It [Social Security] has become what was then called 'the dole' and is now known as 'welfare.' This forgotten history clarifies why America’s budget problems are so intractable."
He later adds:
"Millions of Americans believe (falsely) that their payroll taxes have been segregated to pay for their benefits and that, therefore, they 'earned' these benefits. To reduce them would be to take something that is rightfully theirs."
On closer examination...
Of course Samuelson is 100 percent wrong here. Payroll taxes have been segregated. That is the point of the Social Security trust fund and the Social Security trustees report. These institutions would make no sense if the funds were not segregated.

Samuelson is welcome to not like the way in which the funds were segregated, in the same way that I don't like the Yankees, but that doesn't change the fact that the Yankees have a very good baseball team. Since its beginnings, the government has maintained a separate Social Security account. Under the law, no money can be paid out in Social Security benefits unless the Trust Fund has the money to pay for them.

In this sense, the funds are absolutely segregated. Samuelson doesn't like this, but why should any of the rest of us care? The rest of the piece shows the same dishonesty and lack of respect for facts.