FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace failed to correct Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who argued for partially privatizing Social Security on February 27 by falsely claiming that "[t]here's not going to be the same benefits 30 years from now or 20 years from now for working Americans." This is the second time McCain's false assertions about Social Security have gone uncorrected on the air by his hosts.
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, the 2004 report of the Social Security trustees states that Social Security would be able to pay retirees their full benefits under current law for another 37 years, or until 2042. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the current system would pay out full benefits for another 47 years, or until 2052.
From the February 27 edition of FOX Broadcasting Company's FOX News Sunday:
WALLACE: What are you hearing from your constituents about Social Security reform? Has the president made his case for personal accounts, both the cost and the risk?
MCCAIN: I think he's made the case. I think my constituents want us to sit down together and stop demagoguing the issue. I think that the Democrats owe it to us to stop demagoguing and sit down and seriously negotiate.
There's not going to be the same benefits 30 years from now or 20 years from now for working Americans, and we better sit down and work together and come to an agreement.
WALLACE: Now, there are some reports today that congressional Republicans who were home for the recess now, having heard from their constituents, feel that the president may have to scale back on his Social Security reforms. Are we at that point?
Wallace himself undoubtedly knows the truth about Social Security's long-term finances. On January 16, Wallace aggressively corrected counselor to President Bush Dan Bartlett when Bartlett began arguing that the system faced an imminent crisis:
BARTLETT: The fact of the matter is that when you take the Social Security system as it is, this is a mathematical issue, not an ideological issue. In 1950, there were about 16 workers --
WALLACE: Let me just interrupt, because I know the fact that there were 14 workers for every person when it was first -- the fact is that in 2042, if you did absolutely nothing to the system, it wouldn't be broke. It wouldn't be bankrupt. In fact, there would be a problem, but you would be able to still pay about three-quarters of everybody's guaranteed benefits.
Media Matters for America has documented a previous occasion in which NBC anchor Brian Williams failed to correct McCain when he made a similar false assertion -- that the Social Security trust fund will have "no money at all left" in 15 years -- in an interview following President Bush's February 2 State of the Union address.