On CBS, Blankfein’s $16 million yearly compensation didn’t come up either, nor the reported $220 million worth of company stock he owns.
So what did this prince of finance think people needed to understand about the dreaded fiscal cliff?
“You’re going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people’s expectations,” he said. “The entitlements, and what people think that they’re going to get, because it’s not going to–they’re not going to get it.”
“Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?” Pelley asked.
“Some things,” Blankfein said. “…You can go back and you can look at the history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. So there will be certain things…the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised.”
Pelley nodded sagely. These jokers are never more solemn than when they can’t be serious. Instead of questioning Blankfein’s knowledge of American life or his ability to subtract two-digit numbers, Pelley prompted him to say that entitlement cuts must come “because we can’t afford them.”
But 30-year retirements after 25 years of work? Blankfein must think most Americans earn their first paychecks at age 42, retire at 67, and then draw Social Security until age 97.
The actuarial reality, of course, is that most Americans first go to work during their teens, pay Social Security taxes for 50 years, and then draw benefits for an average of 16 years. Twice the work, half the benefits Blankfein pretended to imagine.
Because, no, the man’s not stupid. But he evidently thinks you’re gullible, frightened and don’t know the facts—that Social Security is fully funded through 2038, and that its life can be extended indefinitely simply by raising the $110,100 salary cap on payroll taxes.
Something else CBS neglected to report was that they didn’t just happen to interview Lloyd Blankfein since Bernie Madoff wasn’t available.
Both he and Honeywell’s CEO David Cotes, who said much the same thing to CBS the next night, along with Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, who appeared two nights later, represent a corporate-funded lobbying group called “Fix the Debt,” whose goal is to keep plutocrats’ taxes low and cut corporate income taxes to zero by reducing grandma’s Social Security and Medicare.
None were so identified, definitely making it appear that CBS News has joined the team.
Photo by Fortune Live Media via Flickr.com
Copyright 2012 The National Memo