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Daily Howler: When will the Post and the Times move beyond the politics of Social Security?
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STILL MISSING! When will the Post and the Times move beyond the politics of Social Security? // link // print // previous // next //

DEBATING SUMMMERS’ BREEZE: Today at noon Eastern, we’ll spend an hour discussing the “Larry Summers Show” with our favorite dancing partner, Richard Vatz. Location: The March Steiner Show, WYPR-FM, Baltimore. You know what to do—just click here.

As of last night, we were still unable to access the C-SPAN video of last Friday’s Washington Journal. For that reason, we’ll postpone our ongoing discussion of Gene Robinson’s appearance on the program. But do check Robinson’s column in today’s Post about the Summers matter. All across the press—all across academia—major figures are using this event as a chance to showcase their grinding illogic. In Robinson’s case, check the way he savages Summers for asking the most obvious question on earth. (See paragraphs 7-8. For the record, we don’t know the answer to the question involved here. Neither, of course, does Robinson.) And while you’re at it, check Dr. Rachel Ivie’s blatant illogic in today’s NYT “Science Times.” Good grief—check paragraphs 11-12. Before doing so, of course, just click here.

As we await renewed access to those rich C-SPAN files, and as we prepare for the Steiner show, we offer a truncated HOWLER today. More on fiery “liberals” tomorrow.

STILL MISSING: In this morning’s editions, the Post and the Times devote front-page stories to the politics of the Social Security debate. But would it kill these papers to cover the merits? Here are two obvious front-page stories—stories that remain unwritten:

  1. How could Social Security be made fully “solvent” without a switch to private accounts? According to the SS trustees, the program faces a $3.7 trillion revenue shortfall over the next 75 years. (The CBO says it’s more like $2 trillion.) How could that shortfall be addressed without the use of private accounts? Do Post readers know that the size of the shortfall is dwarfed by the size of the Bush tax cuts? Have they heard about the minor hike in payroll taxes that could wipe out the shortfall? Do they know how much of the shortfall could be eliminated by raising the cap on the payroll tax? Have they ever seen a full explanation of the Diamond-Orszag plan? All this information should be on the table. But with your “press corps” in typical Full Slumber Mode, it isn’t—and most likely, never will be. Note to the press: You don’t have to wait for a press release from the Dems. Whatever the Dems decide to do, the types of information we’ve listed above belong on page one of your papers.

  2. Will Social Security ever go “bankrupt?” As we’ve discussed again and again, the Bush Admin uses loaded language in discussing Social Security. Its language is designed to mislead, and has succeeded in doing so. What does the president actually mean when he says the program will go “bankrupt/flat bust/flat broke?” Related question: Do those ubiquitous “younger voters” have the first clue when they say the system “won’t be there” for them? News organizations are supposed to clarify misleading comments by major officials. This story should have appeared on page one long ago. But your celebrity press is too lazy, too dumb, too uncaring—and too frightened. As E. J. Dionne put it: “Journalists who have the temerity to question whether the claims ring true...can count on being pummeled as liberal ideologues, even when they are only seeking the facts.”
There’s nothing wrong with writing stories about the politics of SS. But would it kill these papers to report on the merits? The answer is obvious: Yes, it would. These papers are published every day. And every day, these topics are avoided.