Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole...

We have to admit to being more than just a little confused when we read press coverage of yesterday’s baby boomer event at the National Press Club. Just in case you missed it, the nation’s first baby boomer, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, filed online for Social Security benefits yesterday to much hoopla.

But what was truly unexpected about this event was the lack of the administration’s usual gloom and doom propaganda. In fact, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue was incredibly reasonable and definitely not singing from the same “sky-is-falling-the-baby-boomers-will-suck-us-dry” hymnal preferred by the Bush administration.

Here is what Commission Astrue said about Social Security’s financial outlook:

“There’s no reason for any immediate panic”
“It’s not catastrophic”
“There’s no factual basis for these ‘nuclear winter’ scenarios
many have described”

Wow. You have to wonder if the White House knows he’s sticking so closely to the facts.

But here’s where we find ourselves down the rabbit hole. While the Bush administration’s Social Security head is telling the straight story on the program’s long-term fiscal picture (unlike what we generally hear elsewhere from this administration), multiple news organizations virtually ignored it in favor of the White House’s crisis propaganda. Almost all of the coverage today parrots the administration’s “we can’t afford the Baby Boomers ” line even though that is not what the SSA Commissioner actually said at this event.

The Washington Post even went so far as to belittle the Commissioner and Casey-Kirschling for having the nerve to express their confidence in Social Security’s future. The media loves a crisis...this isn’t new. However, Social Security is too important to millions of American seniors and their families to play so fast and loose with the facts in the name of headlines.

The first boomer said it best yesterday when she said,

"I think the baby boomers will want to get this fixed...they're going to want to take care of their children and their grandchildren."

We agree. If only we could set aside the phony crisis calls to do it.

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