Is The Research On Projections For Social Security Biased?

Are the Social Security projections biased? We often hear predictions about Social Security that either seem overly dire or optimistic, but never seem to come true.

Graph from Barron’s magazine

The Social Security Administration projects that its “trust funds” will be depleted by 2033—not an optimistic forecast. But it may be even bleaker than that, according to CNBC network.

New studies from Harvard and Dartmouth researchers find that the SSA’s actuarial forecasts have been consistently overstating the financial health of the program’s trust funds since 2000.

“These biases are getting bigger and they are substantial,” said Gary King, co-author of the studies and director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science.

“[Social Security] is going to be insolvent before everyone thinks,” he said.

The Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ 2014 report to Congress last year found trust fund reserves for both its combined retirement and disability programs will grow until 2019. That’s good news. But program costs are projected to exceed income in 2020 and the trust funds will be depleted by 2033 if Congress doesn’t act.

Projections show that once the trust funds are drained, annual revenues from payroll tax would cover only three-quarters of scheduled Social Security benefits through 2088, according to CNBC.

Consistent reports on Social Security financial indicators started in 1978. The researchers examined forecasts published in the annual trustees’ reports from 1978 until 2013.  They compared the forecasts made regarding variables like mortality and labor force participation rates and compared it to the actual observed data.

Forecasts from trustees reports from 1978 to 2000 were generally unbiased, researchers found.

During that time, the administrations made overestimates and underestimates, but the forecast errors appeared to be random in their direction.

“After 2000, forecast errors became increasingly biased, and in the same direction. Trustees Reports after 2000 all overestimated the assets in the program and overestimated solvency of the Trust Funds,” wrote the researchers, who include Dartmouth professor Samir Soneji and Harvard doctoral candidate Konstantin Kashin.


“In the 1980s, for example, their conservative projections underestimated revenues and overestimated costs, missing the mark for the period by $27 billion in all. In the 1990s, the actuaries were similarly conservative, this time erring by about $200 billion. But in the first decade of this century, the forecasters proved overly optimistic, overestimating revenue and underestimating costs, with the total error reached nearly $1 trillion. (All amounts are in constant 2010 dollars.)”

The research also points to the work of chief actuary of the Social Security Administration as being  “systematically biased and overconfident.”

(Updated artilce)

Does Fox News Justify Killing Animals?

The Trews

Kendall Jones is a 19-year-old cheerleader from Texas and she kills large game for sport.

She’s had her eye on the “Big Five” (the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros) since she was nine. She killed her first white rhino when she was 13.

According to Slate, she poses with the animals she kills, beaming, jauntily pony-tailed, sometimes straddling dead lions or cuddling dead leopards.

Russell Brand’s The Trews examines Fox News’ reactions to Jones, whose hunting pictures went viral last year.


Rivera: ‘Hip-Hop Has Done More Damage To Black And Brown People Than Racism In The Last 10 Years’

Geraldo Rivera got to talking politics with Josh Zepps during an interview about his role on “The Celebrity Apprentice.”  who asked where Rivera falls on the liberal-to-conservative spectrum.

Rivera described himself as “militant moderate.”  After pointing out several of his more liberal philosophies, he laid out his “conservative” philosophy, which was, of course, all about social conservatism and had nothing to do with economic policy.

“Hip-hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years,” Rivera began. The Fox News contributor then challenged anyone to find “a youngster — a Puerto Rican from the South Bronx or a black kid from Harlem who has succeeded in life other than being the one-tenth of one-tenth of one percent that make it in the music business — that’s been a success in life walking around with his pants around his ass and with visible tattoos…”

Rivera added that the most powerful men in hip-hop are responsible for pushing young minorities too far out of the dominant culture.

More On The GOP Social Security Disability Attack

According to sources, on the first day of the 114th Congress, Republicans went after Social Security by placing new restrictions on routine transfers between Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance, known as “re-allocations.”

This was not a bill, but a new House rule that would allow any member to raise a “point of order” if the House considers a “clean” bill to fix a predicted shortfall by authorizing an internal re-allocation of Social Security funds.

Instead of enacting immediate cuts, they rigged the rules so that clearly foreseeable circumstances will trigger disability benefit cuts late next year — just in time to influence the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, SSDI isn’t broken but is strained due to demographic trends that the re-allocations are intended to address. According to the CBPP, if these re-allocations are made, both programs are solvent until 2033.

Some believe if the cap is raised on the rich (the point at which the rich no longer contribute), Social Security will be solvent for many more years.

The Republicans also pushed for “dynamic scoring.” That allows them to set budget projections based off the debunked “Reaganomics/trickle down” theology, which says if you cut taxes for the rich it will magically add revenues to the Treasury. For those who still subscribe to this debunked theory, just look at what Gov. Sam Brownback has done to Kansas, which is now suffering huge budget shortfalls.

Dynamic scoring will set the table for more tax cuts for the super wealthy, furthering our national debt.

Left And Right Presidential Campaign Social Media Bureaucracy

According to Mitt Romney’s digital integration director Caitlin Checkett, “…whether it was a tweet, Facebook post, blog post, photo — anything you could imagine — it had to be sent around to everyone for approval. Towards the end of the campaign that was 22 individuals who had to approve it. … The digital team unfortunately did not have the opportunity to think of things on their own and post them.”

TYT video.