Friday, September 09, 2011

Arrest This Man!

Does this man (photo on right from Social Security Online) resemble Bernie Madoff?

Rick Perry and Rush Limbaugh think so. And they believe he should be in jail.

At the GOP presidential debate, Rick Perry first claimed of the Social Security program "It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you`re paying into a program that`s going to be there." After Mitt Romney corrected him and Perry was given a chance to respond, he contended "You cannot keep the status quo in place and not call it anything other than a Ponzi scheme. It is. That is what it is. Americans know that...."

That was all the encouragement needed for Rush Limbaugh, who on Thursday declared "Look, the Social Security trustees say it is going broke. It is going broke. It is a Ponzi scheme.. .. But, folks, it has always been a Ponzi scheme. Rick Perry is right about it. The difference between this and the Madoff Ponzi scheme is you didn't have to invest with Madoff. Social Security is mandatory. We all have to pay into it.

Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme. And Rick Perry and Rush Limbaugh insist that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Alert the U.S. Attorney's office: Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, has been running a Ponzi scheme and should be arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned.

Astrue has been Commissioner since January of 2007, during which time the SSA has collected approximately 31 trillion dollars. Bernie Madoff was carted off to prison after committing fraud of a mere 64.8 billion dollars, a mere pittance compared to the thievery of the Social Security program.

If they had any integrity, therefore, Limbaugh and Perry would be calling for the indictment of Michael J. Astrue. Sure, as Nick Baumann's Venn diagram illustrates, Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme- but for Rush and Rick, accuracy is no virtue. Were it even a consideration, Perry wouldn't be claiming that Social Security will be gone in 25-30 years and Limbaugh wouldn't, alternately, be claiming it is "broke" or "going broke." The social Security trustees, to whom Limbaugh referred, estimated full payments (without any adjustments) until 2036. According to the latest analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, the system is on track to pay full benefits until 2038, 27 years from now:

CBO projects that the DI trust fund will be exhausted in fiscal year 2018 and that the OASI trust fund will be exhausted in 2042. Once a trust fund's balance has fallen to zero and current revenues are insufficient to cover the benefits that are specified in law, a program will be unable to pay full benefits without changes in law. The DI trust fund came close to exhaustion in 1994, but that outcome was prevented by legislation that redirected revenue from the OASI trust fund to the DI trust fund. In part because of that experience, it is a common analytical convention to consider the DI and OASI trust funds as combined. CBO projects that, if legislation to shift resources from the OASI trust fund to the DI trust fund was enacted, the combined OASDI trust funds would be exhausted in 2039.

Dishonest though it is, there is effective strategy in fabrication while Limbaugh manipulates his radio audience and Perry manipulates the Repub primary electorate. Following Wednesday's debate, which featured a (tame) clash between the Texas governor and the ex-Massachusetts governor, David Atkins observed

The last 30 years should persuade any honest student of politics that particularly in our binary political system, there is no consequence for extremism. The GOP will move farther and farther to the right while Democrats vainly strive for whatever "the middle" happens to be at the moment, even as "the middle" shifts farther and farther to the right. And the GOP will pay no permanent electoral price for doing this, even though they may lose an election here or there in the short term.

Democrats may cheer this little battle between Perry and Romney. But ultimately, it's great for the conservatives who want to kill Social Security, and just the next step in the Overton Window-pushing electoral process that they'll need to get there. And that's true no matter which of the two extremists gets the GOP nod.

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