The on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia locked former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's page early Wednesday morning following Tuesday 's night's Colbert Report during which Stephen Colbert said he was editing the Pawlenty page.
Colbert told his audience he was changing the page to read that Pawlenty was the son of "Mrs. Butterworth" and that Pawlenty "started his career in Santa's workshop," among other things. Finally the political satirist said he wrote, "On August 10, 2012 Tim Pawlenty was named Mitt Romney's running mate."
As the Romney campaign gets close to naming a vice presidential candidate, speculation about who it will be has turned to Wikipedia and the number of times the pages of potential VP picks are edited.
In a fundraising email send Wednesday, the Romney campaign indicated the choice will be announced soon. "In just a few days, one lucky supporter will win the remarkable opportunity to meet Dad and his VP pick in person," wrote Craig Romney.
Pawlenty is said to be among those under consideration. Here's the segment from the Colbert Report:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Mitt Romney's Protective Pool & Running Mate Clues|
Posted at 2:20 PM on August 8, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: PoliGraph
With the primary election looming next week, the three DFL candidates vying to challenge 8th Congressional District Rep. Chip Cravaack debated earlier this week in Brainerd.
Social Security and Medicare came up frequently in the debate, both programs that the three DFL candidates have repeatedly accused Cravaack of wanting to end or change dramatically.
Rick Nolan, who has the DFL endorsement in the race, said that modifications to Social Security and Medicare are necessary, but both programs are too important to dismantle.
"Neither [Social Security or Medicare] have contributed one thin dime, not one penny to the national deficit. On the contrary, Social Security is financing a couple trillion dollars of the federal deficit as we speak," Nolan said.
Nolan's claim enters some complicated budgeting territory.
Up until fiscal year 2010, Social Security payroll tax revenues exceeded benefit payments, creating a cash surplus. But for the last two fiscal years, the program has run billion-dollar shortfalls, and additional deficits are projected into the future.
That doesn't mean beneficiaries are getting smaller checks. Nolan, like other Democrats, argues that though Social Security is currently experiencing annual deficits, the shortfall is effectively offset by interest on bonds it holds from its past surpluses.
But the situation isn't going to last long because Social Security is expected to pay out more than it takes in for the foreseeable future, said David John, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank that tends to support conservative issues. And that means there won't be surpluses to collect interest on.
According to the most recent Social Security Trust Fund report, interest earnings won't cover those shortfalls any longer by 2020, and the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted by 2033.
Eugene Steurele, a fellow with the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., and an expert in Social Security and Medicare, also pointed out that those interest payments also contribute the nation's deficit.
Josh Gordon, policy director at the Concord Coalition said that just because the program is effectively living on interest, the most recent revenue shortfalls are cause for immediate concern.
"The problem is now because it makes no sense to wait until the first year where benefits have to be cut by 25 percent just to have it back in the balance," he said.
So, in the strictest sense, Nolan is correct that Social Security isn't adding to the deficit yet. But he's wrong about Medicare.
Like Social Security, Medicare Part A, which covers hospital care, is set up as a trust fund. But it's currently running a deficit even when interest costs are included, Steurele said.
Further, other parts of Medicare, including doctor's insurance, have always been supported in part by general fund dollars. For instance, the government pays in more than $200 billion per year for doctor's insurance coverage.
Economists largely agree that Medicare and Medicaid are major contributors to the nation's deficit. For instance, in 2009, the Brookings Institution wrote that Medicare and Medicaid are "perhaps the single most important cause of the growing imbalance between projected revenue and expenditures."
Nolan's campaign chairman, Jim Swiderski, said that Nolan believes that changes must be made to both programs to ensure their sustainability, but that neither should be eliminated.
"Rick believes that various modifications to these programs, such as lifting the cap on fund contributions, and allowing negotiated discounts for prescription drugs, can allow both programs to generate positive cash surpluses into the future," Swiderski wrote in an e-mail.
Because Social Security is making up for its annual deficits through interest, it isn't technically a drain on the deficit.
But though that may not be the case now, three economists from across the political spectrum who follow the program closely say that part of Nolan's claim is misleading at best because it implies that Social Security isn't in any financial trouble. In fact, the program's situation is untenable.
And all three agree that Medicare is contributing to the nation's deficit, contrary to Nolan's claim.
As a result, this claim leans toward false.
The Uptake, Democrats Debate to Face Congressman Cravaack in MN CD 8, Aug. 6, 2012
The Social Security Administration, A Summary of the 2012 Annual Reports, accessed Aug. 8, 2012
The Urban Institute, Social Security and the Budget, by Eugene Steuerle and Stephanie Rennane, May 2010
The Urban Institute, The Government We Deserve, by Gene Steuerle, March 24, 2011
FactCheck.org, Democrats Deny Social Security's Red Ink: Some claim it doesn't contribute to the federal deficit, but it does, by Brooks Jackson, February 25, 2011
PolitiFact.com, Obama says Medicare and Medicaid are largest deficit drivers. Yes, over the long term, by Angie Drobnic Holan, June 25th, 2009
Medicare Basics, accessed Aug. 8, 2012
Interview, Josh Gordon, the Concord Coalition, Aug. 7, 2012
Interview, David John, Aug. 7, 2012
Interview, Eugene Steuerle, The Urban Institute, Aug. 8, 2012
Jim Graves, the hotelier looking to unseat 6th Congressional District Rep. Michele Bachmann this fall, has earned a spot on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's list of competitive races.
The DCCC raises and spends money to help Democrats get elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and has identified Minnesota's 6th as a race that's increasingly competitive.
That means Graves' campaign has met certain infrastructure and organizational goals to merit national funds and attention.
"We are honored to have the support of the DCCC," Graves said in a press release. "Their decision to target our race confirms what recent polling clearly shows: the voters of Minnesota's 6th District are eager to elect a businessman who has created thousands of goodpaying private sector jobs and who knows what it will take to get our economy back on track."
But while the DCCC may identify the 6th as a competitive race, politicos don't. For instance, the Rothenberg Political Report rates Bachmann's seat as "Safe Republican."
Three of the candidates for U.S. Senate appeared at a FarmFest forum today near Redwood Falls. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, GOP state Rep. Kurt Bills and Independence Party candidate Glen Menze discussed the Farm Bill, renewable energy and other ag issues. It's the first time Bills and Klobuchar appeared on the same stage together since Bills on the GOP endorsement earlier this summer.
MPR's Mark Steil has a story about the debate here.
You can listen to the full debate here: Listen
(Thanks to MPR's Mark Steil for providing the audio)