Ron Johnson and Paul Krugman. One man has a pocket constitution and the other guy has a Nobel Prize in economics.
They appeared on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday along with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, George Will, George Stephenopoulos, and Bloomberg reporter Julianna Goldman.
Johnson delivered a lot of the expected malarkey including two real whoppers.
This first one caused big smirks to appear all around the table (even on the stoic George Will’s face): Obamacare would result in “$1.6 trillion worth of tax increases hitting us in the next 10 years”. Debbie Wasserman Schultz handled that with ease, but even if she didn’t, the universal smirk told the viewing audience all they needed to know.
Johnson’s 2nd whopper: “It drives me nuts. When I — when I hear people say that Social Security is solvent to the year 2035, it’s not.”
Johnson called the Social Security trust fund the equivalent of U.S. Treasury bonds and added
“it’s the same thing as if you have $20.00, you spend it. And by the way, that money is spent, it’s gone. You write yourself a note for $20.00, stick it in your pocket and say, I got 20-bucks.”
Johnson added that he had, “absolute facts”.
Krugman responded that Johnson used “non-facts”.
That’s an inoffensive way to say “lies” and it sounds dang snappy so that’s what everybody blogged about. Rightly so! But frankly, Krugman barely had enough time to explain his contention on the show and I wanted to flesh that out a little more. I turned to his blog:
“So, I’ve Stephanopoulized, along with Senator Ron Johnson, who began by declaring that we need to agree about the facts — then promptly rolled out the old trust fund zombie. I’ve explained this one over and over again, for example here.”
The important bits from that are:
“..There are two ways to look at this. First, you can simply view the program as part of the general federal budget, with the the dedicated tax bit just a formality. And there’s a lot to be said for that point of view; if you take it, benefits are a federal cost, payroll taxes a source of revenue, and they don’t really have anything to do with each other.
Alternatively, you can look at Social Security on its own. And as a practical matter, this has considerable significance too; as long as Social Security still has funds in its trust fund, it doesn’t need new legislation to keep paying promised benefits.”
Ron Johnson was mixing the two. Hate to say it but for the purposes of these fast-paced talk shows, Krugman may needs to whittle down his statements even more. How about “Social security has contributed not one penny to our deficit or to our national debt”and“Social Security today has a $2.6 trillion dollar surplus.” Those are Bernie Sanders’ statements.As long as I watched the whole show, here are the other subjects covered in the episode:
– Paul Ryan is still pushing for a budget that balances out in 10 years using only spending cuts [previously he shot for a balanced budget in the 2030’s]
– Dem. Patty Murray is working on a bill to repeal the sequester with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases
– At the 15:23 mark, Krugman said “We have basically brought the budget under control and nobody noticed.” A CBO document came out that essentially shows that there is no deficit problem because once you remove the “stabilizers” such as low revenue due to the depressed economy, then the debt is at about $420 billion which is about where the U.S. was in 2006. He recently wrote about that at Gone Deficit Gone.
– Krugman said,”Spending growth has been exceptionally low under Obama. We just need to say that.” He utters that after Ron Johnson exclaims in a whining voice, “At what point do we restrain the growth in government? What point?”
– Jeb Bush is interviewed on immigration and asked about whether he’ll run for president. He said ‘no’ on the presidential run. On immigration he had hopeful things to say (as did all the people on the show’s panel):
BUSH: Yeah, I am. I’m– I’m very encouraged [about getting immigration reform done in Congress]. There are some big sticking points about how do you deal with– making sure that there’s enough– seasonal workers, temporary worker programs that have been quite successful in the past. There’s a lot of people on the left that oppose that, but there’s perhaps a way to make this economically driven.
The AF of L CIO and Chamber of Commerce have reached an agreement to kind of create a path for that. There’s a lot of work being done, really good work, courageous work, ’cause this is complex and– and may not be popular, but I think it’s– it is possible that comprehensive reform can be done.”
– Rand Paul’s fillibuster: They got to discuss that and my, my. I knew that Dr. Paul got up there to talk. But I did not know that he used Jane Fonda posing with a North Vietnamese “armored gun” as a case study for when an American might be killed by a drone nowadays instead of getting properly tried for treason. Poor Jane will never get to live that down.
– They discussed Cheryl Sandburg’s new book about women which supposedly says women need to “lean in” more to get what they want. *shrug* I won’t judge the book if I’ve not read it, but obviously it’s a must-read of the moment.
Watch the full show HERE.
Here’s the transcript.
*Sorry, America. I tried but too many of the Wisconsin Dems. were sleepy in that midterm election.
Footnote: I also watched Ron Johnson’s appearance on Morning Joe today. By that time I didn’t want to write anymore about the man. You can watch that right here. What I got from it is Johnson believes (says) that the free market can provide America’s healthcare. To which I find myself replying, “Do you believe in unicorns too?” I mean, how do you even reply to such an absurd assertion without becoming insulting?