Friday, June 13, 2008

Obama's Wall Street Economic Team May Give the Campaign a Media-Friendly Crisis Mentality about Social Security, "Free" Trade

As much as he would like to see Barack Obama set a progressive economic agenda, economist Dean Baker acknowledges the political realities partly dictated by the mainstream media. He sees more Wall Street than Main Street in Obama's team. And that mentality plays into the dominant media bias and half-truths.

Social Security is a case in point:

They have trumpeted the Social Security "crisis" for more than a quarter century, convincing the bulk of the public that the program is on the edge of bankruptcy. While proponents of the crisis view are all over the news, editorial pages, and pundit shows, the basic facts about the program's finances are almost never mentioned.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the program can pay all scheduled benefits for nearly 40 years with no changes whatsoever. And even if nothing is ever changed, Social Security will always be able to pay future retirees a higher benefit (adjusted for inflation) than current retirees receive. Where's the crisis?

And the media does its best to avoid talking about the failings of the Wall Street agenda. Did you see that great piece about how awful retirees would have fared if we had put their Social Security money in the stock market in the late 90s as the privatizers advocated? I missed that one too.

Baker also cites the false dichotomies of "free trade" vs. protectionism in the Wall Street/media mentality, which also ignores the inequities in the market that already generate selective protectionism under the guise of a "free market."

You cannot have a serious debate with the Wall Street mentality, because the sky is falling, and if you dare question market inequities, then you get labeled as a xenophobic, Lou Dobbs clone. It's all hysteria and adhominems and unquestioned dogma.

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