Gail Collins: How Did Politics in America Get So Weird?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Today is the first of our weekly series with New York Times columnist Gail Collins, How Did Politics in America Get So Weird? We'll review the dishonest, distracting or just downright silly things politicians are saying as we head into the 2010 elections.



Gail Collins

Comments [5]

jawbone from Parsippany

Somerby quote cont'd:

What could possibly make two journalists believe such a patently foolish idea? Simple. Demagogues have pimped that notion for the past thirty years, cramming it into everyone’s heads. Fools like Collins repeat the claim (though not before mentioning Bristol again); their editors don’t even notice. And remember: Collins was the head of the New York Times editorial page from 2001 through 2007! She is one of the biggest fools of our time—and for six years, she held that powerful post at our most famous newspaper.

Correction: This is from the Monday, 8/30 Somerby posting.

Sep. 01 2010 01:52 PM
jawbone from Parsippany

Loenard: Could you please ask Gail Collins about weird things NYTimes people write? When she comes on again, as the segment has ended.

For years now, Gail Collins has been saying Social Security is going to run out of money by 2037*. That is not accurate, but it is a well pounded out anti-SocSec talking point, made sometimes by mostly Republicans but also by ConservaDems.

And lots of MCMers (members of the Mainstream Corporate Media).

Drives me crazy-- also drives Bob Somerby crazey, but he writes about it over and over and over. As he did yesterday:

Question: Can you believe that Collins made the highlighted statement which follows?

COLLINS (8/28/10): So far, Obama is sticking with his deficit-reduction co-chairman. He picked Simpson for the job because he is a Republican willing to talk about Social Security tax increases, a breed rarer than the ivory-billed woodpecker. The administration was obviously hoping that the commission would come up with a bipartisan plan that would combine a rise in payroll taxes with a modest reduction in benefits. The system is supposed to run out of money in 2037, and if we could fix it now, the pain would be much more modest than if Congress waited until, say, January of 2038.

Wow. What more can you say?

In fact, Social Security is not “supposed to run out of money in 2037.” (By “supposed,” Collins meant “projected.”) Powerful demagogues have spent thirty years advancing that powerful, ludicrous notion; thanks to the presence of fools like Collins atop the press corps, they have succeeded in getting that notion into most people’s heads. (On Saturday morning, we discussed this point with a very bright bagel buddy. He was surprised by what we said, though he grasped our point immediately.)

Once again: Social Security is not “supposed to run out of money in 2037.” In reality, the program is projected to run short of money in 2037, by a factor of 25 percent. If nothing is done, and projections hold, promised benefits will have to be cut by 25 percent at that time. In fact, Social Security will never “run out of money,” as any journalist with two brain cells to rub together would know.

Duh. In the year 2037, payroll taxes will still be rolling in, just as they roll in today. Those payroll taxes will allow the government to send out benefit checks. According to current projections, those payroll taxes will fall a bit short, starting in 2037. But what could make any student of policy believe the dumb thing Collins wrote, which her editor waved into print?


Sep. 01 2010 01:47 PM
Laura from Manhattan

A single mother is a single mother, whether she is a politician or a waitress. Single mothers share many of the same challenges. I'm sorry that you are treating this with such frivolity.

Sep. 01 2010 01:37 PM
HB from NYC

FYI The Director of the Older Woman's League is Ashley Carson not Ashley Gordon. She was my roomie in law school.

Sep. 01 2010 01:30 PM
dbmetzger from manhattan

DC Tea Party Rally Sparks Racial Controversy
The D.C. 'Restoring Honor' rally held today by Fox News pundit Glenn Beck has stirred up controversy with its timing. The biggest cause of contention: holding it at the Lincoln Memorial on the Anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech.

Sep. 01 2010 01:10 PM

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