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How should we talk about Social Security!

Posted by Hyuuga Cutezz On 8:36 AM
THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2012

Drum returns to the scene of the crime: Last week, Kevin Drum made a rare mistake—and as we noted, it was a doozy.

The analysts cried about his remarks (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/28/12). And so, a few days later, Drum returned to the scene of the crime.

How should we talk about Social Security? Drum amended and extended his remarks. But we still think there’s room for improvement:
http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/04/medias-real-social-security-problem
DRUM (4/30/12): I said last week that liberals should get off their fainting couches and stop complaining every time someone reports that Social Security funding is in trouble. Unsurprisingly, not many liberals agreed with me—and I'm willing to give some ground on my defense of the "bankruptcy" formulation, which is probably suitable only for polemics. Still, the trust fund is running out of money. Social Security is heading toward insolvency. What else would you call a program that can only pay out 75 percent of its promised benefits?
Quite correctly, Drum threw “bankruptcy” under the bus; as used in discussions of Social Security, that term has been grossly misleading. But we wouldn’t be inclined to use the term “insolvency” either. In this context, most people wouldn’t know what that term means!

Drum asks a very good question: “What else would you call a program that can only pay out 75 percent of its promised benefits?” Here’s our very good answer:

We wouldn’t call it anything else! We’d call it “a program that can only pay out 75 percent of its promised benefits!”

People deserve an accurate, clear description of this matter—especially given the disinformation which has long surrounded this question. So go ahead—use a few extra words!

Stay away from technical, shorthand terms! Tell people just what you mean!

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