Russert repeated Social Security privatization proponents' crisis rhetoric


On NBC's Meet the Press, moderator Tim Russert repeated the crisis rhetoric of proponents of the administration's plan to privatize Social Security. In a December 12 interview, Russert asked former Democratic presidential candidate and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean the following: "Social Security faces a crisis. Should Democrats work with the president in trying to set up some private accounts as a way of cutting the cost of Social Security long-term?"

But the view that the Social Security program needs an immediate, drastic fix is not universally held, as Media Matters for America has noted. The 2004 Report of the Board of Trustees of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds (OASDI), which was prepared by several Bush appointees (including three cabinet secretaries), noted that while "the financial difficulties facing Social Security" should be addressed "in a timely manner," the program is "considered financially adequate throughout the short range ... through the year 2013." The report estimated that Social Security "assets are projected to be exhausted in 2042," at which point, if left unchanged, "tax income would cover 73 percent of costs," and that the system could still pay out 68 percent by 2078. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in June 2004 that Social Security "outlays are projected to begin exceeding revenues in 2019" but that "[t]he expected trust fund exhaustion date -- the year in which the trust fund balance (and thus the trust fund ratio) falls to zero -- is 2052 in CBO's projection." And CNN host Lou Dobbs noted on the December 9 edition of CNN's Inside Politics: "Most of the experts with whom I have talked, most of the analysis that I've gone through shows a problem that is 30 years to 40 years distant."

Posted In
Economy, Social Security
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