Johnson and fellow panelist Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) had been discussing the long-term solvency of Social Security when Johnson made the claim that the Social Security Trust Fund was a myth, and that the revenue generated from the sale of securities to the federal government somehow should not count in calculating the program’s fiscal health.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman jumped in to point out that Johnson was unwilling to accept even the most basic facts over the way Social Security is funded, all for the sake of a talking point:
KRUGMAN: You said ‘let’s start with the facts,’ but we’ve just run aground right there.
JOHNSON: Exactly my point, we have got to agree on the facts and figures.
KRUGMAN: But your facts are false…Social Security has a dedicated revenue base, it has a trust fund based on that dedicated revenue base. You can’t change the rules mid stream and say ‘oh, suddenly the trust fund doesn’t count.’ [...] It’s important to realize that the facts that are being brought out here are in fact non-facts.
The Social Security trust fund is solvent through 2038, and the program would almost certainly have long-term solvency were it not for the Republican-backed cap on payroll taxes for income above a certain level.