Jim Himes

Jim Himes (D-CT)

Jim Himes bristles at the notion that he’s a corporatist, or that his statistics come from wingnuts like Pete Peterson who cherry pick them for the purpose of dismantling Social Security:

Medicare and Social Security have bettered the lives of hundreds of millions. They are integral to our being a just and enlightened society. They also, as currently configured, represent substantial unfunded liabilities. The present value of future Medicare and Social Security obligations are roughly $40 trillion and $8 trillion, respectively (sensitive to scenarios, of course). These are not contradictory facts. They can be, and are, all true at the same time. In fact, the long term preservation of these programs depends on our acknowledging their glide paths and making the adjustments necessary to improve their economic sustainability.

"Sensitive to scenarios," of course. His "scenario" just happens to be the one drawn by Pete Peterson, a hedge fund billionaire who got rich because he didn’t have to pay his taxes. Hedge fund managers are taxed at a rate of 15%, while ordinary Americans are taxed at 35%. Conservative estimates put lost annual revenue at $6 billion.

But as long as we’re talking about facts, here’s a couple. Social Security takes in more than it pays out by about $100 billion per year. That surplus is accumulated in the form of government bonds. When Himes talks about the "unfunded liabilities" of Social Security, he presumes the government is going to default on those bonds — but he doesn’t mention that.

So, maybe Jim should just be a bit more specific when spouting statistics about the future, and think about citing his sources. Wednesday he said this:

the massive unfunded liabilities associated with Social Security and Medicare (now well in excess of $50 trillion)

And by Thursday that debt is already shrinking:

The present value of future Medicare and Social Security obligations are roughly $40 trillion and $8 trillion, respectively (sensitive to scenarios, of course).

Why not add the details of these particular "scenarios"? Why not say "projected out to the year 2075 even though Social Security presently takes in $100 billion more than it pays out, if and only if the government defaults on its promise to pay that money back?"

Because I’m sure we’d all like to know that a US congressman is projecting that the government plans to default on the $2.4 trillion in treasury bonds held by the Social Security trust fund while Pete Peterson still doesn’t pay his taxes.

As Jon Kantrowitz said over at My Left Nutmeg, "I guess you are really worried about being re-elected. But this is not why I voted for you."