BUSINESS
03/10/2013 01:00 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2013

Paul Krugman Accuses Republican Senator Ron Johnson Of Using 'Non-Facts' In Social Security Debate

Paul Krugman accused a Republican Senator of trying to have a debate with all the wrong facts.

During a heated Roundtable discussion on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist told Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) that he had all the wrong facts on Social Security.

“Your facts are false,” Krugman told Johnson, adding, “It's important to realize that the facts that are being brought out here are in fact, non-facts.”

Krugman was taking issue with Johnson’s claim that the fiscal health of the Social Security program is in danger because its trust fund doesn’t really exist. Krugman argued on “This Week” that Johnson was “changing the rules midstream” by denying that Social Security has a dedicated revenue base.

Krugman has criticized Social Security detractors for making similar claims in the past. The program is funded both by the federal budget and by a law that gives it a dedicated source of revenue, according to Krugman. That means that even when the money going into the program may be less than the money it's paying out, its fiscal health isn’t at risk because the program still has the money it needs to run.

Still, that doesn’t mean the Social Security program can run in its current form forever. The trust fund is scheduled to run out by 2033. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said they would be willing to make changes to Social Security do deal with the country’s deficit problems. But they’re far off from an agreement; Republicans say they won’t raise taxes to fix the program, while Democrats don’t want to cut benefits.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Paul Krugman won a Pulitzer Prize. He won a Nobel Prize.

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