In an attempt to contradict recent assertions by Democratic politicians that the Social Security program is not in crisis, a January 19 Washington Times editorial used misleading excerpts from a 1998 speech by former President Bill Clinton. Repeating a misleading argument offered by NBC's Meet the Press host Tim Russert on January 16, the Times failed to inform readers that Clinton's remarks referring to "the looming fiscal crisis in Social Security" were based on 1997 projections by the Social Security board of trustees. At the time, the trustees projected that the program would be unable to pay promised benefits in full beginning in 2029. But the trustees' most recent projections extend that date to 2042, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the trust fund will remain solvent until 2052.
As Media Matters for America previously noted, rather than reinforcing the claim currently advanced by the Bush administration that Social Security is in crisis, reference to Clinton's quotation actually undermines it. The program is on sounder financial ground than it was in 1998.