Has any major news organization done a worse job covering the economic crisis and its fallout than NPR? I was listening yesterday in the car when they broadcast their story about the revised forecast for Social Security and Medicare, and was amazed to hear a reporter claim that the two main factors in the downgraded Social Security projections–a glut of aging boomers and a downsizing of long-term growth expectations–had nothing to do with the recession of the past year.
Obviously you can’t blame the recession for baby boom demographics, but it’s absurd to say that the events of the past year have no bearing on future economic growth. The private debt explosion, coupled with a government “recovery” policy that merely shuffles debt around and encourages doubling down on speculative bets, is going to be a drag on the productive economy for many years to come. And that’s to say nothing of the political pressures arising from the dramatic expansion of public debt. Raids on public spending accounts that benefit those sectors that are not “too big to fail”–chiefly, the public–are inevitable.
The NPR report detailed a couple of possible fixes for the Social Security trust fund: raising the payroll tax that pays its way two more points to 14 percent-plus, or cutting benefits by 13 percent. One other ready option–raising the cap on income subjected to the SS tax above the current $102,000 a year limit–received only the scantest mention at the tail end of the segment. Naturally, the approach that’s least popular with the rich is bound to get the shortest shrift on National Public Radio.