Black and White Highway wallpaper – The Newest Zombie Lie, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme

Black and White Highway wallpaper

Philip Klein is the Senior Editorial Writer at a new dungeon in Wingnuttia called Campaign 2012 ( I wonder if they paid Jon Stewart for the inspiration and the traffic they hope to leech). Klein gets the Conservative Most Likely to Dry Hump Rick Perry’s Leg Award for this idiotic column – Romney throws America’s youth under the bus

Mitt Romney doubled down on his attack against Texas Gov. Rick Perry this afternoon, warning in an interview with Sean Hannity that his critique of Social Security amounted to “terrible politics” that would cost Republicans the election.

Romney’s decision to pile on suggests that he’s willing to play the “granny card” against Perry if it will help him get elected, a tactic more becoming of the likes of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz than a potential Republican nominee.

[   ]…Romney is wrong — Social Security is forced upon us, and it is a failure. It is a scam foisted upon younger Americans who must fork over payroll taxes to fund current retirees and other government services with no prospect of actually recouping what they put into the system.

Social Security was enacted in 1935. That would make it the longest running and most successful “scam” in history. That “scam” has kept millions of seniors out of poverty. By making it able for many seniors to live independent lives in retirement Social Security has also helped millions more American families stay out of financial hardship. There has been no private business entity that has proved as financially viable as Social Security over the 66 years Social Security has been in existence. Private pensions can be wiped out with a company’s bankruptcy. To say contributors will not recoup those contributions in benefits is a lie. Most people do recoup their contributions and Social Security will be there if we continue to properly finance it. Klein is echoing Gov. Rick Perry’s(R-TX) argument that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme”. Social Security Is Not a Ponzi Scheme

When politicians make clearly false claims, reporters have an obligation to explain to readers why those claims are false—or at least quote someone who can. I would suggest political scientist Jonathan Bernstein:

Very simple: anyone who says that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme either misunderstands Social Security, misunderstands Ponzi schemes, is deliberately lying, or some combination of those…After all, a Ponzi scheme is a deliberate fraud. Saying that Social Security is financed like a Ponzi scheme is factually wrong, but saying that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme or is like a Ponzi scheme is basically a false accusation of fraud against the US government and the politicians who have supported Social Security over the years.

larger size chart.


A blogger at DK also has some inconvenient facts for the governor and his genuflecting fans – Social Security is NOT a Ponzi Scheme, Dammit! (copiously sourced)

Many of my most reasonable friends buy into the myth that Social Security is in deep trouble. It’s so accepted and commonly heard amongst major media talking heads, not to mention Republican politicians. In the debate held 9/7/11 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Rick Perry notoriously labeled Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and “montrous lie.”

What are the facts about Social Security’s solvency?

Well, Social Security continues to be in better shape than everything else in government. It has run a surplus not a deficit for the majority of its years in existence.

Reasonable entities (meaning parties like the Congressional Budget Office not right-wing hysterics) assure us that Social Security will continue to be able to operate paying full benefits for the next 25 years.

[  ]… (the sources used for the column)

Defending Social Security. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The Hill, 3/02/11.

More on Raising the Retirement Age.” Ezra Klein. Washington Post, 7/08/10.

“To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security.” Nancy Altman. New Deal 2.0, 6/14/10.

Lawrence Mishel. Economic Policy Institute.

Top 5 Social Security Myths.

Straight Facts on Social Security [pdf]. Economic Opportunity Institute.

Social Security and the Age of Retirement [pdf]. Center for Economic Policy Research.

Operating Budget Actuarial Table. Social Security Administration.

Those who bought into the idea that Social Security was the third rail might want to think again. The Right does have its defenders of Social Security ( Karl Rove has been critical of Perry on the issue), but take a tour of the comment sections of some right-wing websites and their posts on Social Security. They really think the only thing standing between them and financial paradise is Social Security and Obama. We’re all familiar with these zombies and their mentality. All the charts, facts, diagrams and appeals to human decency have to be made and they certainly do have an affect, especially in the case of Social Security. Low income cultural conservatives have the same fears about losing what is in many cases is their only income as everyone else. The conservative zombies are another matter. The same people who believe that social security is a Ponzi scheme are the same people who believe Obama was not born in the US, who believe cutting taxes creates millions of jobs, who believe the earth is only a few thousand years old, who believe Saddam had WMD and was involved in the attacks of Sept 11,2011. So with the knowledge that we’re dealing with people who have a strong aversion to the facts please do not think you can just make their Ponzi scheme mythlogizing go away with some derisive humor and charts. Experience tells us it won’t. Just as there are conservatives who wish the racists elements of the movement would get a grip, there are conservatives who wish the conservative movement was a little more rational about core safety net issues like Social Security – i.e. the rift represented by Romney versus Perry-Bachmann-Paul. Just as their powers of denial and deflection work on so many issues it is likely to be a mistake to take this rift as proof conservative zombie-ism is on its last legs. The Right feels more threatened than ever by progress – even the slightest progress. That fear is driving a very strong far Right re-entrenchment. That fear is a large part of what brought us the teaservatives. If these people can pretend they had nothing to do with the Great Recession, had nothing to do with enabling the senseless deaths of 4,000 Americans, than denying facts about Social Security or taxes or science is a cakewalk. If you’re already tired of reading about Social Security and the Ponzi scheme comparison, get ready to be thoroughly burned out on the subject.


True confessions, I’m not overly fond of presidential speeches. Obama’s are frequently worth a listen. I reached a point where I just read Bush’s at the White House website. Thus as one can imagine I’m not big on speech analysis either. It’s like eating cauliflower, it has to be done occasionally. James Fallows does pick up on a couple of things in regards the intangibles of the speech. People respond to the facts, but emotions help sell what politicians have to say. Anyone who doesn’t think conservatives have their own brand of emotionally laden hopey changey, just look up some of the commentary or naked cowering conservatives have done over speeches by Bush 43 or Saint Ronnie. On the Tone and Structure of the Obama Jobs Speech

1) In his appraisal, the Atlantic’s Chris Good said that the speech’s refrain — pass this jobs bill; you should pass it right away —  amounted to a kind of begging to Congress. That may be the President’s real situation. But I thought that as a specimen of rhetoric, his approach in the speech was quite effective.

In style and structure the constant refrain provided the “music” of the speech. Do you wonder what point the President is trying to get across? Well, in case you’ve forgotten, every thirty seconds he will remind you: Pass this jobs bill; you should pass it right away.

It’s an approach familiar from religious speeches and sermons, and tent-revival orations. When done right, the recurrent refrain seems not repetitive and boring but rather cumulatively engaging: the audience knows where the speaker is going, anticipates the connections he is going to make, and sees how the parts fit together. Most listeners will not know about the theory of rhyme schemes or the structure of refrains in poetry. But we all recognize these patterns when we hear them. Recall how, in a more innocent age, Obama used Yes we can as a stylized connective refrain. After the jump is a passage where I thought the refrain worked well as a thematic device (and was delivered well).

Some wingers have declared that President Obama sounded very angry. I did not sense anger as much as urgency. That the president would be so quickly bounced by the Right for even the subjective appearance of anger is a lesson for liberals who keep calling for him to get angry. It will detract from the message. The message itself might be too late, but in terms of tone it hit just the right mark.

How about the substance? Mark Zandi writing at Moody’s Analytics makes that easy – An Analysis of the Obama Jobs Plan

   President Obama’s jobs proposal would help stabilize confidence and keep the U.S. from sliding back into recession.

The plan would add 2 percentage points to GDP growth next year, add 1.9 million jobs, and cut the unemployment rate by a percentage point.

The plan would cost about $450 billion, about $250 billion in tax cuts and $200 billion in spending increases.

Many of the president’s proposals are unlikely to pass Congress, but the most important have a chance of winning bipartisan support.

Curious wonks will find more detail at the link. Here’s the thing. How many votes will it require to pass the Senate? Do not look in your old civics textbook. The answer is not 51 votes or a simple majority. It will take sixty votes. The economic terrorists or tea bags have a big enough majority in the House to kill it from step one. Some analysis puts the chance of passage of some form of The Jobs Bill at 50%. Seeing that like the last stimulus( The Recovery Act) this one is composed of mostly tax cuts that would make Republicans look like hypocrites once again. Something that Obama has gotten good at doing. And hey Krugman kinda likes it – Setting Their Hair on Fire

Still, the plan would be a lot better than nothing, and some of its measures, which are specifically aimed at providing incentives for hiring, might produce relatively a large employment bang for the buck. As I said, it’s much bolder and better than I expected. President Obama’s hair may not be on fire, but it’s definitely smoking; clearly and gratifyingly, he does grasp how desperate the jobs situation is.

But his plan isn’t likely to become law, thanks to Republican opposition. And it’s worth noting just how much that opposition has hardened over time, even as the plight of the unemployed has worsened.

This story is a couple of week old, but worth a look at Paul Ryan(R-WI), one of the biggest wusses of conservatism. Ryan both insults a senior citizen and constituent,  and cowers at the thought of having to honestly answer a question: Ryan’s Approach to 71-Year-Old Dissenting Constituent: Tackle, Handcuff, Arrest, Disdain

Incredible video of Paul Ryan at his only, $15-a-pop public appearance, wherein he makes the lunatic claim that “most of our debt comes from our entitlement programs” – Bush tax cuts? Iraq? Afghanistan? anyone? – as police wrestle to the ground retired plumber Tom Nielsen for objecting.

As Ryan kept talking, Nielsen, 71, found himself face down on the floor being handcuffed by police. He was thrown to the ground, placed in handcuffs, and arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest after objecting to Ryan’s plans to gut Social Security and Medicare during his congressman’s only public appearance scheduled during the August recess — a $15 Rotary Club luncheon in West Allis, Wisconsin on Tuesday.


I probably have quite a few readers who have had jobs or still have jobs where you have to deal with the public. I bet you’ve dealt with much worse and managed to address the person’s concerns and calm them down without getting the police involved.