In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 22, 2011 20 Sivan, 5771

AARP's misleading ad about balancing the budget

By Glenn Kessler

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com |

Man #1—“If Congress really wants to balance the budget,”

Woman #1—“They could stop spending our money on things like…”

Woman #2—“A cotton institute in Brazil,”

Man #2—“Poetry at zoos,”

Woman #1—“Treadmills for shrimp,”

Man #1—“But instead of cutting waste,”

Man #2—“Or closing tax loopholes.”

Woman #1—“Next month Congress could make a deal that cuts Medicare…”

Woman #2—“even Social Security.”

Man #1—“I guess it’s easier to cut the benefits we earned, than to cut pickle technology.”

— Dialogue from a new ad by AARP

With talks on reaching a deal to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling reaching a critical stage, the venerable over-50 organization AARP has weighed in with a television advertisement that seeks to shift the focus from entitlement programs such as Medicare onto what it deems to be wasteful spending by Congress.

We had earlier given the American public four Pinocchios for failing to understand the basics of the federal budget. We reached that conclusion after a new poll showed 63 percent of those surveyed believe the federal government spends more on defense and foreign aid than it does on Medicare and Social Security. (That’s wrong.) A similar majority believes that problems with the federal budget can be fixed by just eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” — and that 42 percent of every federal dollar is wasted.

Given those beliefs, it seems that the AARP pitch would have a receptive audience. But is it right?

The Facts

We asked AARP to provide data on the programs mentioned in the ad, all of which certainly sound amusing or bizarre. (A video of the shrimp on a treadmill experiment is so funny we embed the video at the end of this article.)

But it turns out this stuff adds up to peanuts in the context of a $3.7 trillion federal budget. The shrimp on a treadmill cost $560,000. The pickle technology project amounts to $775,000. The poetry in the zoos totaled just under $1 million.

While the ad suggests Congress was responsible for this spending, only the pickle technology spending was the result of a congressional earmark. The shrimp and zoo spending were grants made by federal agencies — and actually were exposed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) as an example of wasteful spending.

The biggest line item mentioned in the ad is the Cotton Institute in Brazil ($147 million). But that was the result of the United States losing a ruling at the World Trade Organization over its subsidies to U.S. cotton farmers. There is an effort in Congress to stop the payments to Brazil and instead deal with the issue by adjusting U.S. subsidies.

Much has been made of wasteful federal spending though congressional earmarks, but the Republicans have vowed to end the practice. (There is some question about how successful they will be.) But even so, earmarks never amounted to much of the federal budget. At best, analysts estimate, eliminating earmarks would save only about $9 billion a year.

Meanwhile, much of the budget — more than 40 percent — is spent on social insurance, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Spending on those programs has soared in the last three decades—while projections show the spending in them will only increase, especially as the baby boom generation heads into retirement. When the deficit is projected to be $1.1 trillion in 2012, according to White House estimates, those programs are where the substantial savings can be found.

In fact, the spending identified by the AARP in this ad is so puny that if all were eliminated, it would succeed in only reducing 15/1000th of the deficit — even though the ad starts out by saying “If Congress really wants to balance the budget” it should get rid of these programs.

AARP also suggests that Social Security cuts are on the table in the debt ceiling negotiations. All sides have generally agreed to leave Social Security for future discussions, with House Republicans in their budget further adding that potential changes to Social Security should not affect people over 55.

Mary Liz Burns, an AARP spokeswoman, justifies the inclusion of Social Security because there are proposals floating around Congress that reduce the deficit through some Social Security changes. Those ideas do not appear to be going anywhere in the next month, so this looks like scare mongering.

David Certner, AARP’s legislative policy director, said AARP is also concerned that Congress might extend a payroll tax holiday (which would not affect benefits but could weaken Social Security’s long-term financing) or make adjustments to how cost-of-living increases in benefits are calculated.

“No one would suggest that these three things or even similar projects would balance the budget,” Certner said. “This is a 30-second ad to catch people’s attention. We don’t have time to educate people over what’s going on.” He claims that AARP has identified $100 billion in health spending cuts that he says would not affect benefits.

The Pinocchio Test

The AARP ad perpetuates the worst stereotypes about how easy it would be to balance the budget. At a time when the nation’s fiscal crisis — amid the looming retirement of the baby-boom generation — demands informed and reasoned debate, the AARP misinforms its members about the choices the nation faces. The choice is not between shrimp treadmills and Medicare; the question is how growth in the big entitlement programs can be restrained to accommodate the baby-boom generation without harming the elderly already receiving benefits. If AARP has identified real spending cuts worth $100 billion, it should have made an ad promoting those ideas, not an ad perpetuating myths.

Four Pinocchios

Meanwhile, we are going award one Pinocchio to President Obama for claiming that the wealthy would pay “a little more.” That phrase is relative, but the hidden 7.5 percentage points identified by Ryan strikes us as more than pocket change.

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An award-winning journalism career spanning nearly three decades, Glenn Kessler has covered foreign policy, economic policy, the White House, Congress, politics, airline safety and Wall Street. He was The Washington Post's chief State Department reporter for nine years, traveling around the world with three different Secretaries of State. Before that, he covered tax and budget policy for The Washington Post and also served as the newspaper's national business editor. Kessler has long specialized in digging beyond the conventional wisdom, such as when he earned a "laurel" from the Columbia Journalism Review


05/24/11: A rare Geppetto for Paul Ryan's assertion on Obama's hidden top marginal tax rate

05/16/11:Obama administration boasting about border security

05/11/11: Kathleen Sebelius's outrageous claim that cancer patients would 'die sooner' under the GOP Medicare plan

05/09/11: A gusher of oil rhetoric

05/04/11: The Obama administration's odd claims on export growth

04/28/11: How effective are sanctions in ‘changing behavior’?

04/14/11: ‘Biggest cuts in U.S. history’? Well, no.

04/08/11: Nancy Pelosi's absurd math on senior citizens losing their meals

04/06/11: Hillary Clinton's uncredible statement on Syria

03/25/11: Libya, Obama and the tragedy in Darfur

03/22/11: Gifts of bogus statistics for the health-care law's birthday

03/21/11: Mitch McConnell's not-so-happy birthday greetings for the health care law

03/10/11: A job-loss statistic produced out of thin air

03/10/17: A budget analogy that earns a Geppetto checkmark

03/10/11: Four pinocchios for the American public on the budget

03/09/11: Obama and the White House's ‘halfway’ fixation with the budget

03/08/11: Foreign policy braggadocio on Libya and AIDS

03/07/11: Democrats keep misleading on claimed budget ‘cuts’

03/01/11: Mike Huckabee is on to something here, but jumped the gun

02/25/11: Harry Reid's illusory $41 billion in budget cuts

© 2011, Washington Post