you get a cookie! part 3 of ???: brianna keilar

Digby finds our latest cookie winner, CNN White House Correspondent Brianna Keilar, who made “sense” of President Obama’s budget proposal for CNN’s viewers:

One of the big talking – one of the big headlines that folks will be talking about today will be what the carrot to Republicans. It is — you may have heard referred to as chained CPI. Well, what the heck is that, you may say? That is an adjustment to how Social Security benefits are doled out. This is something that Republicans are happy that is in his proposal and many liberals are very upset about, because it would reduce the spending to Social Security recipients, which is obviously a huge driver of the deficit. But it would reduce the spending by decreasing the cost of living adjustments, those increases that seniors see. And this would have a very real impact for a lot of seniors who rely on Social Security for their income; they’re on a fixed income and this is where they get their money just to do their household expenses.

This is a particularly smrt take, marred only by the tiny, almost irrelevant really, mistake that Social Security spending doesn’t in any way, or at any amount, “drive” (or in oldspeak, “add to”) the deficit:

Under the law, Social Security cannot possibly contribute to the on-budget deficit. It can only spend money that has been collected from the designated payroll tax or from the investment of past surpluses. (The money from general revenue to make up for the temporary payroll tax cut the last two years is an exception to this rule.) If benefit payments exceed current revenue and the money available in the trust fund, as the Congressional Budget Office projects will happen in 2038, then Social Security would not be able to pay full scheduled benefits. It could not force the government to increase its deficit.

Well, you can hardly blame CNN or its White House Correspondent for not knowing, you know, basic facts about a large, long-running federal government program that is particularly newsworthy of late. I mean, there are feces-filled cruise ships out there that demand attention! And, um, other things! It’s not like there’s some way to quickly look up the answers to perplexing questions like, “does this thing add to the deficit or doesn’t it?” I mean, we’re not all philosophers or wizards here, am I right? That deficit is a lot of money! Who KNOWS what’s going in there, am I right? Yeesh!

Brianna, you are a shining star in American journamalism. For achieving the prestigious and presumably well-compensated position of “White House correspondent” for a large, 24-hour news station, without bothering with that boring, soul-crushing task of “learning facts about things before you go out and do your job where you inform the public about those things,” you get a cookie:

Delicious and surprisingly good for you!
Delicious and surprisingly good for you!

What? Not a cookie? That’s ridiculous. This is every bit as much a cookie as Social Security “is obviously a huge driver of the deficit.” Enjoy!


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