The story’s reliance on Greenspan is also a bit of a problem. Sure, as the Times points out, he played a central role the last time Social Security was restructured. But these days, he’s busy explaining what he saw—and did—at “The Crisis,” and this story could do with another voice from outside the Social Security Administration that isn’t his.
The Times also falls into that Internet-era trap of thinking more information is necessarily better.
This CBO chart linked to in the piece shows “total income” exceeding “total outgo” for as long as the eye can see. That looks like a healthy account to me. Is the problem revenues v. benefits? And what does that footnote on “other income” really mean?
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.