O’Reilly as Paul Revere: The Disabled Are Coming

Bill O’Reilly complained last night (7/5/12) that there are too many disabled people in America:

Twenty years ago in June 1992, there were 3,300,000 Americans receiving federal disability payments. Today, 20 years later, that number is a record 8,733,000 workers on disability.

O’Reilly’s not buying it for a second:

Why has the disability rate increased more than 100 percent? I’ll tell you why. It’s a con. It’s easy to put in a bogus disability claim.

And according to O’Reilly, who compares himself to Paul Revere, this is a big sign that that “the country is in steep decline”:

More than a 100 percent increase on the taxpayer dime. And that dime is getting a lot smaller.

In 1984, 85 percent of American workers paid federal income tax–85 percent. Now? 51 percent pay federal income tax. A decline of 34 percent. Why? Because of social justice, because the feds are allowing Americans who don’t make much money to pay no income tax.

Now you might say, well, that’s just fair. But the reality is America doesn’t have any money, we’re broke. And that is eroding our power in a big way.

One little problem with this analysis: Disability insurance isn’t paid for out of income tax–it’s covered by Social Security taxes, which all workers pay. (It’s actually a regressive tax, since it’s not paid on income over $110,000.)

This is the kind of mistake you make when, like O’Reilly, you rely on comic strips to do your research for you:

By the way, I want to thank our pal Bruce Tinsley who writes the Mallard Fillmore cartoon strip for tipping me off to the federal tax number.

P.S. U.S. GDP in 1992 was $8.3 trillion (in 2005 dollars). In 2011, it was $13.3 trillion. The United States is not broke; it’s richer than it’s ever been.

P.S.S. I do admit to regularly learning things from This Modern World. But Mallard Fillmore is no Sparky the Wonder Penguin.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.