Ed Schultz took a dive off the deep end on Saturday’s The Ed Show, claiming that Social Security is a “cheap” program that “has never contributed one penny to the deficit.” The bombastic MSNBC host also blasted Republicans who support partially privatizing Social Security, arguing those lawmakers just want to “get their hands on the money.”
Schultz echoed similar arguments made by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who suggested that Social Security doesn’t contribute a “penny” or a “dime” to the national deficit. Both Democrats’ claims were challenged by fact-checking organizations, including PolitiFact, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, and FactCheck.org. And while the term "cheap" is relatively subjective, few would argue that Social Security – which takes up one-fifth of the federal budget – is "cheap."
Big Eddie made his own dubious claims in between parts of an interview he conducted with Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Mark Begich (Alaska), both Democrats, on their proposal to expand Social Security benefits. Schultz puffed up the senators’ plan while scolding Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) for “brainwash[ing] voters into thinking Social Security is broken”:
But of course, Republicans like McConnell want to cut Social Security. That’s their mission. Luckily, the voters in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky are not buying it.
Schultz used a Public Policy Polling (PPP) study to boost his claims [image right] – PPP is a liberal polling firm – but ignored non-partisan Gallup polls which suggest Americans, indeed, are worried about the state of Social Security. A March 2013 poll found that 75 percent of Americans are worried a “great deal” or a “fair amount” about the Social Security system. Fifty percent of those surveyed are worried a “great deal.”
An earlier poll from Gallup, conducted in April 2011, found that 67 percent of Americans believe Social Security is “already creating [a] crisis” for the federal government or will create a crisis “within 10 years.” Americans are undoubtedly worried about the state of Social Security, despite what Schultz may claim.
The host was also incorrect to suggest Republicans just want to “get their hands” on Americans’ Social Security benefits. In fact, a key motivation behind privatization of Social Security is to give individuals more options with the benefits they have earned, and to wall off some of that money from politicians in Congress – who are practically raiding the Social Security system for everything it has. The current system – which many Democrats would like to strengthen – actually gets its hands on Social Security more than proposed alternatives, as the federal government has borrowed and spent more than $2.6 trillion from the Social Security Trust Fund.
If Ed Schultz thinks that a system which spends more than it takes in and contributes tens of billions of dollars to the deficit each year doesn’t need reform, he can just keep on pretending.
See the full transcript below:
The Ed Show
July 27, 2013
5:52 p.m. Eastern
ED SCHULTZ: Republicans like Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell want to brainwash voters into thinking Social Security is broken and contributes to the deficit. It doesn’t.
SEN. MITCH McCONNELL: Don’t tell me Democrats represent the interests of young people. Washington Democrats stand around like a lookout guy at a bank robbery, pretending nothing’s wrong. Even as the Medicare and Social Security you’re all paying for goes broke.
SCHULTZ: What a jaded opinion. Social Security has never contributed one penny to the deficit. But of course, Republicans like McConnell want to cut Social Security. That’s their mission. Luckily, the voters in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky are not buying it. Fifty-one percent support the Harkin-Begich plan to increase Social Security – that’s increase – Social Security benefits to adjust for inflation.
SCHULTZ: Republicans want us to sacrifice our future for a grand bargain to fix the budget, but Social Security is not for sale. When President Obama suggested chained CPI, Democrats said it was unacceptable. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are off limits. That’s if you’re a Democrat and you believe in families. Senator Harkin and Begich told me about their solution.
SCHULTZ: Here’s the bottom line. Democrats are not going to budge on Social Security. It protects working people, disabled Americans, and protects the elderly who worked hard all their lives. Social Security is a great investment. It has worked. It’s cheap, and it’s solvent. And it’s a key part of the American dream.
SCHULTZ: Now, with the debt limit fight on the horizon, you can bet that the Republicans are going to be looking for revenue, and they are going to go right to Social Security. The bottom line in all of this is that they’re going to lie to the American people, they’re going to tell you that it’s part of the problem, that it doesn’t work. That it can be fixed. There is no crisis right now. And now, if you couple this with the Republican ideology on retirement in general, they have no problem going after people’s pensions to make city budget work. They have no problem making sure that they privatize absolutely everything. If we had privatized Social Security right after Bush was re-elected – the first trip he made was to Fargo, North Dakota, in January of 2005 to start his privatization tour, which the American people rejected – what if we had gone along with that? What happened to the market in 2009? What would have happened to all of those Americans who were counting on social security and living on a fixed income? This is something the younger generation, the twenty- and thirty-somethings in this country have to pay attention to. There’s no reason to change it, except the Republicans want to privatize it and get their hands on the money. That’s “The Ed Show.” I’m Ed Schultz.