Chris Matthews on Monday got a much-needed lesson from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) on how tax hikes impact the budget as well as the economy.

"Congressman Ryan, is there any tax role for reducing our $1.4 trillion to $1.7 trillion debt this year -- deficit this year?" Matthews asked during the 5PM installment of MSNBC's "Hardball." "Is there any role in tax increasing to help do that job?"

When Ryan gave an answer Matthews didn't like, the host arrogantly responded, "So, you won`t cut -- you won`t raise taxes and you won`t cut spending...All this bitching about the deficit doesn`t mean squat, because you won`t do either, raise taxes or reduce spending."

With the ball nicely teed up, Ryan unleashed a drive down the middle of the fairway that would make Tiger Woods proud (video follows with transcript and commentary, h/t Twitter's @LFRGary):  



SocSecBrokeCard0309Once again, it's clear that reading editorials and op-eds at publications like the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily becomes a requirement to be truly informed when a Democratic administration in power.

On July 6, Peter Ferrara at IBD noted that the annual report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare system is long overdue, and wondered why:

Are Overdue Reports Concealing ObamaCare Impact On Medicare?

Every year, the Annual Report of the Social Security Board of Trustees comes out between mid-April and mid-May. Now it's July, and there's no sign of this year's report. What is the Obama administration hiding?



Jeanne Sahadi at CNNMoney.com has finally realized Social Security needs urgent reform - and by reform, she means going after the wealthy, of course.

On Monday, Sahadi reported on news from the Congressional Budget Office that Social Security is dipping into savings already this year and will not be able to meet its obligations by 2037. That's at least 15 years earlier than what the CBO had predicted during the last administration, and with 27 years to go it's entirely possible the deadline will move again, especially if the current recession persists.

But Sahadi wasn't worried. In fact, she began her piece by saying "it should be a snap" to rescue the program from bankruptcy.

After blissfully assuring readers that Social Security will be fine for another 27 years, Sahadi offered three easy-peasy steps that could be enacted over time to make the program solvent. Sadly, those three ideas were all too predictable:



A $787-billion stimulus. Liabilities of $356 billion for the TARP bailout on the federal government's balance sheet. And that's in addition to other unfunded liabilities from federal entitlements like ObamaCare, Medicare, and Social Security.

But that doesn't mean the U.S. is heading down the path toward socialism because they were one-time expenditures, according to CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman.

On CNBC's "Squawk Box" April 29, as jobless claims for the week was being released on the floor of the CME Group in Chicago, co-host Joe Kernen asked for Liesman's opinion.



The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.

Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."



US-Social-Security-Admin-SealThe establishment press has for decades and almost without exception insisted that FDR's sacrosanct legacy of Social Security can go on and on with only minor tweaks, and that if trouble looms, it's way out there in 2040 or so when the "Trust Fund" is depleted. The problem is that during that time the federal government has raided the annual surpluses generated by "Trust Fund" which now consists almost entirely of IOUs from the rest of the government. Meanwhile, annual surpluses, where tax collections exceed benefits paid and which were well over $100 billion just a couple of years ago, have vanished, and aren't coming back to any significant degree.

Another mythology is under development: That the just-passed ObamaCare legislation has "saved" Medicare. The Social Security/Medicare Trustees report is being delayed until June 30 to incorporate the effects of the recently passed ObamaCare on the health of Medicare. It will supposedly tell us that the life of the Medicare "Trust Fund" has been magically extended by about a decade. (Raise your hand if you think the Trustees are under immense political pressure to issue a favorable verdict regardless of the facts.)

In his Tuesday coverage of a government official's leak to the Associated Press about the report's delay in advance of the official administration announcement, the AP's Martin Crutsinger spun these and other fairy tales in his stout defense for the fiscally destructive programs. But in doing so, he perhaps inadvertently revealed that Congress and the administration had no idea of the true future impact of ObamaCare.

Here are key paragraphs from Crutsinger's report (footnotes are mine, and are explained later):



Wondering how much faith the left has in your ability to run your own life? Chris Matthews was brutally honest today when he criticized that "idealistic notion" of self-reliance that ignorant conservatives insist on pushing.

Matthews apparently believes that without massive social welfare programs like Medicare and Social Security, there would be "poor people all over the place, old people lying in the streets," and the nation would look like "Calcutta."

He made these absurd claims -- and they are absurd -- on yesterday's Hardball, and went on to call for a more robust "social state," complaining that lefty bloggers had not done enough to make it seem more desirable to the American people (h/t Gateway Pundit).



PBS's Jim Lehrer on Tuesday wrongly accused Republicans of always being against major social legislation in this country including the Civil Rights Act, Social Security, and Medicare.

"[T]hrough history, recent history in particular, Republicans have opposed things like Social Security, Medicare, even civil rights legislation, but then, once they lost, they took some deep breaths and moved on, and then finally ended up embracing many of these major changes in -- in laws and in the way we do business here," the News Hour host amazingly said to his guest Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and Kyl quickly corrected Lehrer (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript and commentary, relevant section at 4:40, h/t Cubachi):



In David Leonhardt's latest "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times, "The Perils Of Pay Less, Get More," he reestablished his reputation as the paper's neo-liberal economic voice, admitting that at a certain point taxes hurt economic growth, but also urging Obama to break his pledge and raise taxes on everyone, not just people making over $250,000 a year, in order to cut the deficit.

Leonhardt has certainly changed his mind about Obama's tax pledge. In a huge August 2008 story for the New York Times Magazine, Leonhardt actually promoted Obama's popular campaign promise to reduce taxes for those making under $250,000, in the name of addressing "inequality":
Obama's agenda starts not with raising taxes to reduce the deficit, as Clinton's ended up doing, but with changing the tax code so that families making more than $250,000 a year pay more taxes and nearly everyone else pays less. That would begin to address inequality.


SocSecBrokeCard0309

The Associated Press's timing couldn't have been better for those who still want to pretend that Social Security is really not in serious trouble. Stephen Ohlemacher's item ("Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs") originally appeared on Sunday, in the midst of most of the major college basketball conference tournament championships, then followed by the evening's announcement of the selections for the NCAA Division I Men's basketball tournament. (The AP has issued minor revisions several times since its original appearance, up to and including today.)

The wire service's timing, while convenient for the Washington establishment, as it minimizes the possibility of distractions from its statist health care obsession, couldn't have been worse for those of us who wish the American people would get a grip on the gravity of the situation -- which is why I saved this post for today.

What is about to occur is the event that as little as a year ago, according to the Social Security Trustees' 2009 Report, wasn't expected to arrive until 2016. Ohlemacher tells us that it's right here, right now, and gets the reporting right until his seventh paragraph (bolds are mine):

Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs



Imagine the audacity of wanting to dispose of your own money as you see fit? The idea is hateful to Bill Scher of the Huffington Post, who demanded in "Super Wealthy Deathly Afraid Estate Tax Would Reduce Deficit" on March 9 that the wealthy "pay their fair share."

Scher railed against the Bush tax cuts, and asserted that a 35-45 percent inheritance penalty (the estate tax or death tax) isn't punitive enough to stem the deficit crisis. 

"But those massive tax breaks to the superwealthy don't quite have the same juice they used to. Especially, the estate tax - levied on the inheritances of the wealthiest heirs in America," Scher wrote. "This year, because of the Bush tax plan from his first term to gradually phase out the estate tax altogether, the estate tax is literally wiped off the books."



Americans have been so bombarded with the word "crisis," it appears to have lost all meaning. But according to a distinguished scholar at the Cato Institute, there is a real, serious crisis pending in America's addiction to entitlement programs, government-dependence, and imaginary "rights" to live off future generations.

"You will have to look into the future, do the responsible thing, and begin moving toward a system of personal accounts. That is the only long-term solution," said Jose Pinera of America's social security and pension system.

Pinera knows what he's talking about - he's the architect of social security reform in Chile. Introducing a recent interview with Pinera, Fox Business Network's Brian Sullivan said, "Thirty years ago, the social security system of Chile was broke, flat-busted.  Entitlement reform was just destroying the nation's finances. In walks the Harvard-educated Jose Pinera. He pushed through by force of will a plan to privatize their entire entitlement system and social security - there is no government social security in Chile now - and everybody has a private account."