The bigger picture…

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Social Security, as we know, is not in a crisis. In fact, its already-health long-term outlook has improved with the 2005 Trustees’ Report. Nevertheless, over the next few weeks, media talking heads and the president will no doubt start chattering away over slight shortfalls in the program’s funding 40 years from now.

Never mind the fact that even if these shortfalls do appear in 2041 (or, better yet, in 2052, which is what the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicted), the program can still pay 74 percent of promised benefits—benefits that are higher in real terms than those paid out today, and benefits that will likely be higher than anything workers can gain under privatization. (Especially when you factor in the fact that we’ll all have to pay higher income taxes thanks to those multi-trillion dollar transition costs!)

But set that aside for a second and look at the bigger picture. We’re all obsessing over a slight shortfall—a mere 1.37 percent of GDP—four decades from now. Meanwhile, do admire the trunk, ears, and massive girth of the elephant honking around the room: namely, the massive budget deficits we’re running right this very second. Those deficits are 2.6 percent of GDP now, and will amount to a whopping 10.70 percent of GDP in 2042. The primary cause of these deficits, meanwhile, are the Bush tax cuts. And the primary reason that these deficits will accelerate so spectacularly over the next 40 years have little to do with Social Security and almost everything to do with rising health care costs and interest payments on a debt that the current Bush administration refuses to tackle. Max Sawicky has the wonky details here. Bottom line, there’s a crisis going on this very instant, and we’d all do well to keep our eyes on it.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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