Memorize and Repeat
Here’s Bob Somerby, unfortunately only describing (as opposed to either transcribing what was said, or saying it himself on NPR or CNN) what a talking head or expert should say when confronted by the “worthless IOUs” claim:
RECOMMENDED ANSWER [to the “worthless IOU/How can the government repay the trust fund” sophistry]: Easy! Almost surely, the government is going to borrow the money, as it has done for the past forty years whenever it pays back previous loans. … The government borrows from individuals and entities all over the world, and when it comes time to repay those loans, the government routinely borrows more money to conduct the transactions. The government does this every year! You may think that’s an OK idea, or you may think that the government shouldn’t borrow at all. But the government has borrowed for the past forty years, and no one uses asks how it’s going to pay the loans back until it comes time to pay back the money it has borrowed from Social Security! When the government repays Ross Perot’s bonds, for example, no one says, “Oh, we’re sorry, Mr. Perot, but the money you loaned us has already been spent”— Although, of course, it obviously has. Duh! That’s why the government borrowed it! — and no one calls Mr. Perot on the phone and tells him we’re very sorry but he has nothing in his portfolio but “a pile of worthless IOUs.” But in the case of Social Security, these ridiculous claims are suddenly offered, and this is done for an obvious reason — to mislead the public, to create the sense that some sort of crisis exists and that Social Security has gone belly-up. But that just isn’t true. Where will the government get the money? Neal, it will borrow the money, just as it has done for years, and will continue to do, whenever it pays back its loans.
And by the way, one important point: If the government hadn’t borrowed that money from Social Security, it would have had to borrow it from someone else. And guess what? Those debtors would have been repaid, just as the government always repays its debtors. You may not like the fact that government carries debt, but that has nothing to do with Social Security. The federal governments always pays back its debts, and it will pay back these debts in the usual manner. Stephen Moore understands all this as well as he knows his own name.
But Neal, one final point, and this is extremely important: Stephen [Moore, of the Club for Growth] is making these silly, scary claims for the purpose of confusing the public. Stephen understands how debts get repaid; he understands “where the money comes from.” He knows that, whenever the government repays a loan, the money has always “already been spent.” He’s raising concerns that he knows are absurd in order to frighten and mislead the public. It’s time we called a spade a spade and asked him and his associates to stop.
Now, is there some way the DNC, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi can ensure that every Democratic spokesperson who goes on air understands these points and can convey them with this much clarity?