AP's Ohlemacher Claims Social Security System Has 'Money,' Then Admits It Doesn't

Carrying water for the left as their pet programs implode while pretending to be an objective reporter is a daunting task. The Associated Press's Stephen Ohlemacher was not up to that task Thursday afternoon.

Twice, in relatively early paragraphs of his 31-paragraph writeup, the AP reporter claimed that the Social Security system has "money." He then separately quoted a Democratic congressperson who insisted that it has money, and that the mere act of correctly asserting that it doesn't "manufactures a crisis." But in a discussion of how big Social Security's problems really are, Ohlemacher acknowledged that Congress has already spent the balances in the so-called Social Security "Trust Funds." The dictionary definition of money does not include promises to repay money borrowed, Stephen — and that's what the Social Security "Trust Funds" contain.

Here are excerpts from Ohlemacher's report — including, so to speak, the three "money" paragraphs (bolds are mine):


Social Security turns 80 on Friday, and the massive retirement and disability program is showing its age.

Social Security's disability fund is projected to run dry next year. The retirement fund has enough money to pay full benefits until 2035. But once the fund is depleted, the shortfalls projected to be enormous.

(Paragraph 13)

If the tax revenue were redirected (to the Disability Fund, which is set to go officially broke in 2016 — Ed.), the retirement fund would lose one year of solvency, so both the retirement program and the disability program would have enough money to pay full benefits until 2034. At that point, Social Security would collect enough in taxes to pay 79 percent of benefits.

... Democrats are much more eager to defend the disability program, noting that its modest benefits keep millions of disabled workers and their families out of poverty.

"The issue is whether you're going to cut services and benefits to Americans who paid for them by saying that the Social Security program doesn't have the money, when in fact it has nearly $3 trillion," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. "It manufactures a crisis."

(Beginning at paragraph 26)


Yes. For much of the past three decades, Social Security produced big surpluses, collecting more in taxes than it paid in benefits. Social Security invested those surpluses in special U.S. Treasury bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

They are now valued at $2.8 trillion.

But as Social Security was generating surpluses, the rest of the federal government was running deficits, for all but a few years around the turn of the century.

To finance deficit spending, the Treasury borrowed from the public and from other federal programs, including Social Security.

So there is no "money" after all. Congress has spent it.

The bonds the system holds aren't "money." A "bond" is "a promise to repay the principal along with interest." The much longer full definition found at InvestorWords.com does not contain the word "money." That's because bonds are not a form of money.

The AP's Ohlemacher knows that most users of this AP content will only worry about what is contained in the first few paragraphs, and will dutifully tell readers, listeners and viewers that the retirement "Trust Fund" has "money" to pay benefits for 19-20 years. It doesn't. It has $2.8 trillion in IOUs from the rest of the government, which is itself over $18 trillion in debt, i.e., it has no money to speak of. Additionally, the government is projected to run annual deficits which, with rare exceptions, will be $500 billion or more a year as far as the eye can see — and that's if there's no serious economic downturn in the next 20 years, and if the unrealistic economic growth assumptions used by the Social Security administration (unrealistic as long as Keynesians control the government) pan out.

With his later Q&A treatment, Ohlemacher can claim he eventually got around to telling the truth, secure in the knowledge that almost no one will see or read it.

Such are the ways of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Congress Economy Budget Social Security Government Agencies Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Covert Liberal Activists Labeling Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Wire Services/Media Companies Associated Press Stephen Ohlemacher

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