Yesterday, Washington Post syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer performed an act of journalism that anyone in the establishment press could have done -- and didn't -- for 17 days.
Krauthammer did a masterful job of taking apart Obama White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob ("Jack") Lew's ridiculous February 21 defense of Social Security and its alleged irrelevance to the deficit in USA Today.
But he went further. He caught Lew saying the exact opposite thing 11 years ago when he was -- wait for it -- Bill Clinton's White House Office of Management and Budget Director.
Here are key excerpts from Krauthammer's column on the fundamental truths about Social Security and the fundamental fib foisted on McPaper by Jack Lew (bolds are mine):
Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew wrote in USA Today just a few weeks ago, the trust fund is solvent until 2037. Therefore, Social Security is now off the table in debt-reduction talks.
This claim is a breathtaking fraud.
The pretense is that a flush trust fund will pay retirees for the next 26 years. Lovely, except for one thing: The Social Security trust fund is a fiction.
If you don’t believe me, listen to the OMB’s own explanation (in the Clinton administration budget for fiscal year 2000 under then-Director Jack Lew, the very same). The OMB explained that these trust fund “balances” are nothing more than a “bookkeeping” device. “They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits.”
In other words, the Social Security trust fund contains — nothing.
… When you retire, the “trust fund” will have to go to the Treasury for the money for your Social Security check.
Bottom line? The OMB again (in 2000): “The existence of large trust fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, have any impact on the government’s ability to pay benefits.” No impact: The lockbox, the balances, the little pieces of paper, amount to nothing.
… when Jack Lew tells you that there are trillions in this lockbox that keep the system solvent until 2037, he is perpetrating a fiction certified as such by his own OMB.
What happens when you retire? Your Social Security will come out of the taxes and borrowing of that fiscal year.
Why a right-leaning syndicated columnist had to be the one to "discover" this breathtaking contradiction is beyond me. At a minimum, Krauthammer should send bills to the AP, New York Times, and his parent paper for journalistic services rendered.
A related entry is at BizzyBlog.com.