Fox “Straight News” Correspondent Pushes Falsehood That Social Security “May Run Out Of Money”

On Fox News' Your World, Fox's chief political correspondent Carl Cameron defended Gov. Rick Perry's attack on Social Security, claiming that Social Security “may run out of money.” In fact, Social Security will pay full benefits until 2036, even if no changes are made to the program, and even after 2036, Social Security will be able to pay “three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2085.”

Cameron: Social Security “May Run Out Of Money”

Defending Perry, Cameron Claims Social Security “May Run Out Of Money.” From the September 19 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: What about for Rick Perry, whose comments on Social Security have gotten him in some -- some hot water? What about for him?

CAMERON: Well, we've -- well, Social Security obviously is a hot button issue, and in Florida where there's very large population of retirees it's a very big deal. But because there are so many retirees and they do read their Social Security mail -- it says on the monthly statement that Social Security has solvency problems and it may run out of money, so even the recipients recognize that.

And there's been criticism of Perry's rhetoric, but many argue it's not so much substance as it is semantics, because when you look at the Republican field all of them understand and say flat out Social Security is insolvent and needs to be fixed. Perry's rhetoric may in the minds of Mitt Romney and others be frightening and intimidating to Republicans. To an awful lot of seniors it's just telling the truth about an entitlement that they want to see fixed and restored rather than watch it continue to head towards ultimate bankruptcy. [Fox News, Your World With Neil Cavuto, 9/19/11]

In Fact, Social Security Will Be Able To Pay Earned Benefits For The Foreseeable Future

Social Security Has Been Paying Benefits For Decades And Will Pay Full Benefits Until 2036, Even If No Changes Are Made To The Program. The 2011 annual report on the Social Security trust fund states:

The combined OASI and DI Trust Funds are projected to increase through 2022, and then to decline and become exhausted and unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2036. [Social Security Administration, 5/13/11]

Even After 2036, Social Security Will Be Able To Pay “Three-Quarters Of Scheduled Benefits Through 2085.” From the summary of the 2011 annual report on the Social Security trust fund:

After 2022, trust fund assets will be redeemed in amounts that exceed interest earnings until trust fund reserves are exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than was projected last year. Thereafter, tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2085. [Social Security Administration, accessed 9/19/11]

Economist Baker: Social Security Is “Close To Being Sustainable For The Infinite Future.” From an e-mail to Media Matters by economist Dean Baker:

A Ponzi scheme requires ever expanding number of participants with the current participants being paid from new members of the scheme. The deal is that people are getting paid far more back than what they paid in. In fact, participants in [Social Security] get a real return that averages around 2.0 percent. It is close to being sustainable for the infinite future. The projected shortfall is equal to a bit more than 10 percent of the programs costs (by the CBO projections -- the [Social Security] trustees have a somewhat higher figure). With a relatively modest tax increase (equal to one third of the cost of the Iraq-Afghan wars or roughly 5 percent of the wage growth projected over the next 3 decades) the program would be solvent indefinitely.

Ponzis don't work this way. [E-mail to Media Matters, 9/8/11]

Fox Repeatedly Defends Perry's Attack On Social Security

Both Fox's “Straight News” And Opinion Divisions Have Routinely Defended Perry's False Attack On Social Security As A “Ponzi Scheme” That Is On The Brink Of Insolvency. Following are numerous examples:

  • Fox & Friends Advances Myth That Social Security Is A Ponzi Scheme. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 9/18/11, via Media Matters]
  • Cavuto Falsely Suggests Social Security “Will Go Belly Up” In The Near Future. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/15/11, via Media Matters]
  • “Ponzi! Ponzi! Ponzi!” Right-Wing Media Dig In On Social Security Lie. [Media Matters, 9/14/11]
  • Stossel: “Ponzi! Ponzi! Ponzi!” [Media Matters, 9/14/11]
  • Hannity And Gasparino Join Right-Wing Chorus Pushing Myth That Social Security Is Like A Ponzi Scheme. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/13/11, via Media Matters]
  • O'Reilly: Social Security Is “Not Exactly A Ponzi Scheme, But It's Close.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/13/11, via Media Matters]
  • Fox “Straight News” Reporter Jim Angle Gives Credence To False Claim That Social Security Is Like A Ponzi Scheme. [Fox News, America Live, 9/13/11, via Media Matters]
  • Juan Williams Forces Krauthammer And Carlson To Walk Back Their False Claim That Social Security Is A Ponzi Scheme. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/12/11, via Media Matters]
  • Fox's The Five Refuses To Give Up Debunked Attacks On Social Security And Health Care Reform. [Fox News, The Five, 9/9/11, via Media Matters]
  • Fox “Straight News” Anchor MacCallum Defends Perry's Claim That Social Security Is A “Ponzi Scheme.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/8/11, via Media Matters]
  • Bolling Agrees With Perry That Social Security “Is A Ponzi Scheme.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/8/11, via Media Matters]
  • Fox's Johnson Defends Perry: “A Lot Of People Do Believe That [Social Security] Is A Ponzi Scheme.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/8/11, via Media Matters]
  • Brit Hume: “In Many Ways, Social Security Can Be Likened To A Ponzi Scheme.” [Fox News, America Live, 9/7/11, via Media Matters]

But Experts Agree That Social Security Is Not A Ponzi Scheme. [Media Matters, 9/8/11]