Attempts to reignite the intergenerational warfare campaign against Social Security — led by the billion dollar austerity lobby — seem to have hit a new high. Alternet highlights just a few of the recent instances:
A string of recent examples—rants  from MSNBC’s wealthy young commentator, a notorious elderly-attacking  House candidate, think tanks promoted  on NPR—generational warfare cheerleaders are proclaiming that America is heading toward an epic and immoral conflict as better-off seniors are robbing millennials of shrinking federal dollars because retirement programs cost too much. That’s simply false, as Social Security is solvent  through 2033, and spending on all mandatory programs as a percentage of GDP is close to  where it’s been since 1975, at 21 percent.
This line of attack isn’t in a political vacuum. It comes as some Democrats are reframing  the debate on Social Security and campaigning  for increased benefits. Nor is it a new argument, as a right-wing club of libertarians, Wall Street bankers and deficit hawks have tried for decades to undermine and privatize the program.
For MSNBC’s, Abby Hunstman, this is the second time in as many weeks that she’s taken to the airwaves with a monologue chock-full of errors and political rhetoric heavy of drama and light on the facts. NCPSSM’s Equal Time, joined the Los Angeles Times and others in pointing out just a few of those errors in her first attempt to “educate” millennials:
Millennials Face Big Problems – Abby Hunstman, MSNBC
“Here’s the reality, at the rate we’re spending, the system (Social Security) will be bankrupt by the time you and I are actually eligible to get these benefits.”
“We can’t afford it.”
“While we’re living two decades longer we haven’t made any changes.”
MSNBC anchor Abby Huntsman (daughter of GOP Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman) clearly misunderstands Social Security’s funding and twists both life expectancy data and worker ratios to the breaking point to build a false case for cutting Social Security benefits for millennials. Contrary to Huntsman’s claims, there is not a single scenario or economic projection in which Social Security goes bankrupt, most Americans aren’t living 20 years longer and there have been numerous reforms to Social Security in the past, including raising the retirement age.
If Washington does nothing at all by the time the Trust Fund is depleted in 2033, millennials and generations after them will receive a 25% benefit cut. Huntsman urges raising the retirement age to 70-75 on top of that which means an even larger benefit cut for our children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, rather than educating her fellow millennials with the facts, her “fix” for Social Security comes straight from the multi-billion dollar anti-entitlement lobby‘s talking points. There are ways to fill the funding gap without hitting future generations with huge benefit cuts. Rather than gutting Social Security under the guise of “fixing it”, Congress should lift the payroll tax cap and enact other meaningful reforms to strengthen the program for future generations.
Inexplicably, rather than address her mistakes Huntsman then chose to double-down on them with a second error-laden missive. Michael Hiltzik with the Los Angeles Times tried, a second time, to help her with the “basic math” she claims to understand:
Huntsman complained that I called her out for asking how we’re going to pay the rising costs of the health and social insurance programs, as though “even raising the question means you’re automatically anti-Social Security or against the elderly.”
No. I called her out for raising the question using bogus numbers, such as life-expectancy rates from birth, which have risen sharply since the ’30s but aren’t relevant to Social Security’s fiscal health. Instead, the key figure is life expectancy from age 65, which hasn’t risen very sharply. (Huntsman appears to accept this point.)
Huntsman offered several possible remedies for rising costs in these programs — means-testing benefits, increasing the retirement age, raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65 — and complained that we’re not even debating these options.
That’s where she really goes off the rails. We have been debating those options, for years. They’ve all been studied, measured, calculated and scored. The reason they haven’t been implemented is that none of them is simple. None of those she listed would have an appreciable positive effect on the fiscal health of the programs, and some, such as raising the Medicare eligibility age, might make the overall federal budget picture worse.
Economist Dean Baker also gave it a try:
“The far greater risk to the living standards to the people of Huntsman’s generation is the risk that we will continue to see the upward redistribution of income over the next three decades that we have seen over the last three decades. As a result of this upward redistribution of income, people like Ms. Huntsman’s father have benefited enormously, while most workers have seen little or none of the gains from economic growth. If this pattern continues then most people in Ms. Huntsman’s cohort will not fare well financially even if we eliminated their Social Security taxes altogether.”
So Huntsman continues to take her cues directly from the billion dollar Wall Street campaign to paint Social Security & Medicare as the biggest threat to future generations while ignoring the income inequality which will curse millennials for a lifetime.