Coincidentally, over the weekend I was cleaning files and came across a letter Ball had sent me in December 2004 when Social Security was also under attack. He wanted to share his proposal for bringing Social Security into balance over the next seventy-five years and for adding a new system of supplemental savings accounts to counter the privatization efforts of George W. Bush. Ball also included what he called “A note on the misleading use of accurate statistics.” Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? He was talking about the shifting ratio of workers to retirees, a point Kaiser made in her piece, implying that was part of the problem. Said Ball:

The plain fact of the matter is that Social Security faces an eminently avoidable long-range funding shortfall, not an inevitable collapse brought about by unmanageable changes in the historic ratio of workers to beneficiaries. Those who advance that argument are using an accurate statistic to make a highly inaccurate charge.

Ball was always accessible to reporters looking for background and understanding. I was flattered to be on his mailing list. Journalists have heroes, too.

For more from Trudy Lieberman on Social Security and entitlement reform, click here.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.