The Economic Policy Institute put out a useful “fact check” after that AP story earlier in the month that addresses some of these questions. A little explanation for the reader who bothers to click through goes a long way. Maybe next time?

There certainly will be a next time for this story. Even today, the Times is hosting a discussion among five experts, asking whether there are “fixes Congress can make to Social Security that are politically palatable.”

Not surprisingly, the answers run the gamut—raise the retirement age, reduce benefits for the wealthy, the system isn’t broken—and make clear just how nettlesome this public policy question really is. It’s something the press has to cover, and cover well enough that readers can understand.

If you'd like to help CJR and win a chance at one of 10 free print subscriptions, take a brief survey for us here.

Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at holly.yeager@gmail.com.