There is no ‘clawback’

Spearing the Beast

Paul Krugman, that paragon of objectivity, in the NYT Op-Ed:

Here’s how it would work. First, workers with private accounts would be subject to a “clawback”: in effect, they would have to mortgage their future benefits in order to put money into their accounts.

Second, since private accounts would do nothing to improve Social Security’s finances – something the administration has finally admitted – there would be large benefit cuts in addition to the clawback. [emphasis mine]

Except, that, um,

There is no ‘clawback’.

Last week, after the State of the Union Address, a story in the WaPo noted the ‘clawback’ in Bush’s plan, and I bookmarked it to follow up. Before I could, I received a Daily Debunker email noting that there really wasn’t a ‘clawback’. Not sure what to think, I shelved it until I could research it a bit more.

That evening when I got home from work there was another Daily Debunker email noting that the WaPo had posted a correction to their story, clarifying that there was not any ‘clawback’ in the administration’s Social Security proposal.

Now, I haven’t read the proposal, so maybe Krugman is right and there is a ‘clawback’. It sure sounds pretty scary, so that also adds credibility to the claim. But why would the WaPo post a correction claiming clearly that there is no ‘clawback’ less than 24 hours after a prominent story claimed there was if it really exists? Remember, it’s not the Washington Times, it’s the Post.

And Krugman, who I’ve often said is a good economist and a bad political writer, doesn’t seem to understand that the whole ‘clawback’ threat is bogus. Maybe he’s not that great of an economist, either? He’s either misinformed or lying, it appears.

He hits on something though, and lets the cat out of the bag:

The attempt to “jab a spear” through Social Security complements the strategy of “starve the beast,” long advocated by right-wing intellectuals: cut taxes, then use the resulting deficits as an excuse for cuts in social spending.

Except that that particular cat has long since been let out. It’s no secret, Mr. Krugman. This ‘beast’ needs a serious diet and everyone knows it.

But there’s apparently no clawback.


  1. Paul Krugman is a horrible economist and political writer. He’s a hack whose theories always end up debunked. I normally can’t even listen to him without gagging. As for the Washington Post, I have a theory. Mind you it’s only one man’s opinion. When a lawyer is questioning someone on the stand, they will occassionally ask questions or make statements to which they know an objection will be raised. Why? Because even though that question or statement has been ‘stricken from the record’ it can’t be striken from the minds of the jurists who just heard it. I think we’re beginning to see the same thing happening with the media. They post a story that they either know is false, or they haven’t bother to fact-check. Everyone reads it and everyone talks about it. Then they post a ‘correction’ on page 12 in small print where no one sees it. Their original story is still being talked about and they have the credibililty of ‘correcting’ themselves. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I need a tin-foil hat. But I just don’t trust the media to tell the truth about anything nowdays.

  2. Drew………I suspect you’re right; at least a significant portion of the time, in regards to the media ‘dropping a poison dime’ for the rest of us to pick up and run with. As you note it’s an excellent ploy to prejudice whatever audience they’re playing to. Undoubtedly the liberals will continue to use scare tactics to win over the undecided, and retain the fearful on the SS issue. The math is simple…….SS has always been the biggest pyramid scheme of all time. The earlier you get in on it; the more likely you’ll make out OK. Around 42 people contributing for every beneficiary when it was established, and only about 3 people contributing/beneficiary now (and each of those are getting a much larger benefit and collecting it longer). You don’t really have to be much of a math wizard to figure out that equation. Please God! Bless us with a flat tax (9% darn it!) and a private retirement investment program! Or……….was that a flat earth? LOL! I’m sure we’ve got an equal chance at getting either one!

  3. Well, Flanker, maybe the individual retirement plan might be possible. You know the government though. Flat tax? Yeah……right, we’ll get back to you on that. Goes right along with, I’m with the government, and I’m here to help.