Aug
02
2011

David Gregory's Social Security Nonsense

Misinforming viewers about deficit's causes--and public's solutions

Corporate media coverage of budget deficits and debt often turns to blaming Social Security and Medicare for being the real problem. NBC's Meet the Press host David Gregory is especially fond of passing off such misleading claims as facts. In a question to Republican Sen. John Thune, Gregory put it this way (7/31/11): Senator, what's really ludicrous to the American people, even when the American people don't always speak with one voice on this matter, is that Washington is not really dealing with what really drives the debt, that's entitlement spending. It's been going on this way and was a […]

Oct
01
2010

'Saving' Social Security From Its Previous Rescue

The multi-trillion surplus that must never, ever be used

Way back in 1983, corporate media helped sell the dubious notion that Social Security needed saving by a blue-ribbon commission (Extra!, 1-2/88). The panel—headed by future Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan—raised payroll taxes and the retirement age for the ostensible purpose of accumulating a large surplus to help finance the retirement of the baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964. That this surplus, loaned to the general federal budget in exchange for Treasury bonds, would also help to finance the Reagan-era tax cuts for affluent taxpayers was treated as a complete coincidence. Twenty-seven years later, the baby boomers are retiring […]

Sep
03
2010

Phyllis Bennis on Obama Iraq policy, Dean Baker on Social Security

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: On August 31, President Obama announced the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq in a speech from the Oval office. While in a palace in Baghdad the commander of those combat operations, General Ray Odierno, announced that his job was over, proclaiming that in Iraq, "hope has replaced despair." This was all noted with little challenge by corporate media. We'll talk with Phyllis Bennis, of the Institute for Policy studies about the changing U.S. role in Iraq. Also on the show: Are Americans on the verge of losing one of the most popular […]

Aug
11
2010

Situation Room Scaremongering

CNN's Social Security crisis

The August 5 reports from the Social Security and Medicare trustees declared Social Security's long-term financial outlook mostly unchanged from the previous year, and the projections for Medicare were greatly improved from previous forecasts. But on CNN's Situation Room, this news amounted to a crisis in Social Security and a threat to the country. On the August 5 broadcast, host Wolf Blitzer announced: "Social Security reaches the final financial tipping point. The system is now paying out more than it's taking in. Will Washington do anything anytime soon to fix this problem?" Blitzer was referring to the fact that this […]

Jul
02
2010

Nancy Altman on deficits and Social Security, Alfie Kohn on education

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: a special look at two issues that seem to bring out the worst in the corporate media. First up, the deficit. Worrying about the budget deficit is a corporate media staple, so President Obama's deficit commission must appear a godsend. Early reports are that Social Security cuts, another media obsession, have become the commission's main focus. Somewhat tellingly, the commission has announced that it will not be reporting on its recommendations until after the November elections. We'll talk about the President's commission, social security, public opinion and the media, with Nancy Altman, the co-director […]

Jun
01
2010

Pete Peterson's Media Empire

Conflicts are OK when you have an anti-entitlement agenda

Pete Peterson--Photo Credit: Forbes/Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Peter G. Peterson is on a crusade to end Social Security as we know it, and he’s spread his tentacles throughout the media. Peterson, investment banker and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, is also a co-founder of the Concord Coalition, a trustee of the Committee for Economic Development and a board member of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Peterson has long been a corporate media favorite (Extra!, 3-4/97), but since 2008, he’s also poured money into making his own media—via his Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a $1 billion behemoth dedicated to “fiscal sustainability issues related to federal deficits, […]

Jun
01
2010

The 'Liberal Media' and State Austerity

Scaring readers with right-wing research

On March 12, a front-page article in the New York Times warned that the value of the federal government’s debt, if Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security obligations are included, totals $79 trillion—yes, with a T. Less than three weeks later, another front-page Times article (3/30/10) alerted readers that states’ pension obligations to public employees tops $5 trillion. Truly shocking figures, especially when the size of the entire U.S. economy is a measly $14 trillion. These articles exemplify a trend in mainstream media discussions of budget deficits and state debt that make sensational and deeply conservative assertions about the costs of […]

Apr
01
2010

Deficit Fascinates Media--Its Causes, Not So Much

Bush tax cuts seldom mentioned as source of red ink

The role of George W. Bush’s tax cuts in the current federal deficit is tremendous. Their role in corporate media’s current round of deficit obsession, however, is tenuous at best. Sometimes acknowledged in editorials or op-eds, the cuts generally only make it into news reports as assertions from the White House or Democrats, rather than established and relevant economic fact. Elite papers lately issue near daily alarms on the deficit—“gargantuan,” “unprecedented,” “unimaginable a few years ago.” Virtually all accounts speak portentously of the costs of benefit programs like Social Security, often described as “the main causes for expanding federal spending […]