Saturday, November 17, 2007

Article in question: Played for a Sucker

The article, “Played for a Sucker,” was published on November 16, 2007 in the op-ed section of the New York Times.

Statement from article: “As Peter Orszag, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, put it in a recent article co-authored with senior analyst Philip Ellis: “The long-term fiscal condition of the United States has been largely misdiagnosed. Despite all the attention paid to demographic challenges, such as the coming retirement of the baby-boom generation, our country’s financial health will in fact be determined primarily by the growth rate of per capita health care costs.”

How has conventional wisdom gotten this so wrong? Well, in large part it’s the result of decades of scare-mongering about Social Security’s future from conservative ideologues, whose ultimate goal is to undermine the program…….

But Social Security isn’t a big problem that demands a solution; it’s a small problem, way down the list of major issues facing America, that has nonetheless become an obsession of Beltway insiders. And on Social Security, as on many other issues, what Washington means by bipartisanship is mainly that everyone should come together to give conservatives what they want.”

My point of view: This article is too partisan, and Paul Krugman (a venerable Economist at Princeton) does not make the case that social security is a “small” problem.

Let’s be honest – the New York Times is a liberal paper. Now they have gone too far. The purely opinionated piece (hence, an op-ed article) reveals no statistics to back up the opinion that ‘social security isn’t a big problem that demands a solution.’ Paul Krugmen refers to a non-cited work by Peter Orszag that the ‘country’s financial health will in fact be determined primarily by the growth rate of per capita health care costs.’ When taken in the context of the article’s purpose, social security, I presume that Orszag is speaking of per-capita medicare payments to retiring individuals. Medicare, however, is under the blanket of social security! If you qualify for social security, then you qualify for medicare. Then I ask this, why is social security not a problem?

To further understand why the article is too partisan, let’s consider the following statement: ‘But Social Security isn’t a big problem that demands a solution; it’s a small problem, way down the list of major issues facing America, that has nonetheless become an obsession of Beltway insiders.’ I ask you this, what is the biggest problem? Right now, it may not be social security, but what about in the year 2020? Then, social security (medicare) payments will be made on an ad-hoc basis through taxes and spending cuts. We will see how “big” the problem is then.

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