Ed Morrissey at Hot Air had the catch of the day yesterday when he revealed, based on Congressional Budget Office internal projections distributed to Congress during the summer, that the Social Security system will spend more cash than it takes in during the government's next fiscal year ending September 30, 2010. Read about it there, or here, because you won't see the establishment media acknowledge the existence of these revelations.
Morrissey isn't clear as to when the report was prepared, but if it dates back to July or even early- mid-August, it's possible that Social Security will show a measly positive cash flow of less than $10 billion when the dust settles on the current fiscal year that will end next week, compared to +$72 billion a year ago. That's because the decay in Treasury's cash collections during the current quarter has been that bad.
Here's the relevant portion of the spreadsheet Morrissey obtained:
ABC's Brian Ross on Wednesday investigated a subject that has been skipped by CBS and NBC's morning shows, the more than $1 million spent by the Social Security Administration for its employees to attend lavish retreats, complete with a motivational dance company performing for the government bureaucrats. Host Chris Cuomo asserted that Social Security may be "on the brink of financial ruin. But, you would never know it from a recent luxurious retreat paid for by your tax dollars."
Good Morning America's Ross, who has spend much of 2009 delving into whether or not Wall Street executives should fly on private jets or go on lavish retreats, provided some consistency by looking into a story that has, so far, been ignored by CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today. He explained that Social Security is "expected to be insolvent in less than 30 years, unless taxes are raised substantially. But, there was no sense of financial crisis when almost 700 Social Security executives gathered here last week at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix."
In his report's apparent final incarnation early Tuesday morning, the AP writer:
- Told us the amount of June's deficit ($94.3 billion), but didn't disclose the figures for June's receipts ($215.4 billion) or "outlays" ($309.7 billion), or how they compared to June of last year. In doing so, he "succeeded" in concealing the accelerating decline in tax collections.
- Didn't tell us that the past month's deficit is by far the worst June ever.
- "Forgot," as he did in May, to tell readers that the deficit would be hundreds of billions of dollars higher if it weren't for an "accounting change" retroactively put into place by Treasury in April that changed the definition of "outlays."
- Cited the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as contributors to the deficit situation, while not identifying several other expenditure categories that have been worse offenders by far.
- Found an economist, without dissent, to support the claim that what the Obama administration has done had to be done.
And that doesn't even count Crutsinger's Krugmanesque rewrites of the history of the 1930s Depression era and 1990s Japan, or the apparatchik-like tone present in a few of his paragraphs.
Yesterday, in the process of passing on news that bloggers such as Ed Morrissey at Hot Air and outfits like the Heritage Foundation were onto earlier, Bloomberg's Kevin Hassett delivered a stinging indictment of the establishment media for being asleep at the switch (the sole exception appears to be a video report at PBS). But while he does a good job identifying the problem and indicting journalists for ignoring the news, his prescription for a solution is badly wanting.
The news? The days of Social Security surpluses are over, six to possibly eight years earlier than was thought to be the case just a year ago.
Here are excerpts from Hassett's commentary ("Recession Bites Into Social Security’s Surplus"). His first word reveals what he thinks of the nation's political elites, and of the media that are supposed to be watching them:
Although an admitted Barack Obama supporter during last year's campaign, CNBC's Jim Cramer has certainly changed his view concerning our 44th president.
On Tuesday's "Today" show, the outspoken "Mad Money" host said: we have "an agenda in this country now that I would regard as being a radical agenda"; Obama's just announced budget "put a level of fear in this country that I have not seen ever in my life," and; "This is the most, greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president."
He also called Timothy Geithner "an invisible treasury secretary," and expressed hope that the next time he goes to Capitol Hill "he doesn't throw the drowning man the anvil like he did the last time he spoke" (video and transcript below the fold, file photo):
The self-aggrandizing denizens of Hollywood constantly scold Americans over a lack of national healthcare. It is the biggest failure of American society ever that there is no cradle to the grave program for free health care, they constantly tell us. And now, in keeping with these nearly universal Hollywood "principles," to prove how Hollywood is far more moral than we lowly citizens of flyover country, and to show that they are better than the great unwashed in the backwaters of America... Hollywood is closing its nearly 90-year-old Motion Picture Fund hospital and accompanying long-term living facilities for aging actors.
Yep, dumping it. Walking away from the facilities for free healthcare for actors. Fuggedaboutit.
The Associated Press's record of running interference for Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner continues mostly unabated.
No AP report I have seen has noted that Geithner applied for and merely pocketed partial "reimbursements" from the International Monetary Fund for payroll/"self-employment" taxes. He signed IMF forms saying that he had paid or would pay those taxes. He didn't pay up for 2003 and 2004 until his returns were audited. He more than likely never would have paid up for 2001 and 2002 if he had not been nominated, even though a strong case could be made that he engaged in tax evasion.
These aspects of Geithner's tax situation, if widely known, would, I believe, cause the average taxpayer to object strongly to the very idea of his nomination. AP's alleged journalists appear to believe that this cannot be allowed to happen.
AP Personal Finance writer Dave Carpenter, in a mostly Q&A piece with a really weak title ("Meltdown 101: US tax laws can even foil the pros"), continued the silence on pocketed reimbursements yesterday afternoon (stored here for future reference). He also seems to have found every excuse for Geither except "the dog ate my W-2":
This is a timely op-ed from Dan Gainor of BMI.
Christmastime is the time of giving. So we can thank Bernie Madoff for giving Americans some special gifts this holiday season.
Yes, I said thank him. OK, maybe not a lot. But the one-time financial wizard's downfall is a morality tale that provides so many lessons it's almost impossible to know where to start.
If you've been living under a rock, the former chairman of the Nasdaq has been charged with securities fraud. Not just ordinary securities fraud, either. Reportedly, Madoff's sons turned in their father, and who could blame them. He had allegedly confessed to them "that his investment business was a giant Ponzi scheme' that cost clients $50 billion, a lawyer for the brothers" told Bloomberg.
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
I'd encourage people to view the video, not only for the entertainment value, but as a case study of how to defeat a member of the liberal media.
Sometimes government tries to fix the problem; then it makes the problem worse.
In 2004, economists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), studied the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and determined it actually prolonged the Depression by seven years.
Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian blamed anti-free market measures for the slow recovery in an article published in the August 2004 issue of the Journal of Political Economy.
Cole and Ohanian asserted that Roosevelt thought excessive business competition led to low prices and wages, adding to the severity of the Depression.
"[Roosevelt] came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies," Cole said in a press release dated Aug. 10, 2004.
NewsBusters is, of course, a site dedicated to exposing liberal bias in the press. But, once in a while the liberal press gets something right and this is one of those cases. On Spetember 20, Newsweek hosted an article by FactCheck.org that exposed the outright lies contained in the claims Barack Obama made against John McCain's record on Social Security in order to scare as many elder citizens as he can. Obama may have expected every Old Media outlet out there to cover for him, but Newsweek didn't oblige this time. So, I thought I'd highlight this piece and give Newsweek the thumbs up for hosting the FactCheck.org article.
Over the weekend, Barack Obama appeared in the battleground state of Florida and made to scare citizens over McCain's votes on Social Security. Obama claimed that McCain voted for a plan that would have seen the Social Security benefits of "elderly women" at risk in the stock market during the recent wildly fluctuating market. Telling his audience, "if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week," Obama tried to claim that the elderly would have lost their money because of John McCain. FactCheck.org called these claims "not true."