Paul Krugman gives Dean Baker an assist:
This is largely Dean Baker’s beat, but I’ve also been noticing what he’s noticing: sloppy doomsaying on Social Security seems to be making a comeback. During the great 2005 debate over privatization, I thought people like Dean and myself had managed to get across the points that there is no such program as Socialsecuritymedicareandmedicaid; that Social Security is in pretty good shape, so that projections of huge future spending on Socialsecuritymedicareandmedicaid are mainly about the Medicareandmedicaid part of it; and that in general, what we have is a health care crisis, with the costs of an aging population much smaller and more manageable. But now casual talk about the need to “fix” Social Security is creeping back into the discourse. Folks, Social Security is in pretty good shape; it’s not clear that there even is a long-run shortfall, and if there is it’s a much less pressing problem than many others. The only reason we hear so much about Social Security is that there are powerful political forces that want to kill it, for ideological reasons.
Years ago when Lawrence Lindsey was spinning this issue, Paul had a thought that would make the General Fund not look so bad – have the payroll tax pay for Social Security benefits and the Defense Department too. Paul was mocking Dr. Lindsey’s spinning of course, but is the current accounting gimmicks any worse?