f you live or plan to live on your earned Social Security benefits, be advised: The Republican-controlled Congress is out to take away your money — even though Social Security is the only income for 90 percent of retirees 65 and over. They are doing this to pay for the gigantic tax break they just gave their billionaire friends.
Tax-cut supporting Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, according to Newsweek, has said tax reform means cutting funds, “and only increasing economic growth and limiting the costs of Social Security and Medicare” can bring down the national debt, which will increase by $1.5 trillion under the Republican tax plan.
House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to cut taxes as well as Medicare, which began in 1965 as part of the Social Security Act during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, erroneously declaring, “Medicare is the biggest entitlement we’ve got to reform,” Newsweek reported.
Apparently concurring with Rubio and Speaker Ryan, former congressman-turned-White House Director of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney revealed $64 billion in cuts to Social Security Insurance (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) were included in President Trump’s budget for 2018, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare reported. Mulvaney went on to accuse SSI and SDI beneficiaries of “scamming the government.”
These cuts will harm millions of Americans living on the edge. Approximately 554,000 people are already homeless, according to the 2016 annual “point in time” count provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Will they survive this administration?
SSI and SSDI set a basic standard of living for seniors with very low incomes, as well as children and adults meeting disability eligibility standards. Millions suffer from life-altering illnesses or injuries. Millions more are sure to be added to that number in coming years. These vital social welfare programs are among the proposed cuts by the so-called “fiscal hawks” that irrationally and irresponsibly reduced taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Even before the tax-cut vote, the Senate Appropriation Committee had already planned a $50 billion cut to the Social Security Administration, fully aware that an estimated 10,000 beneficiaries 65 and over retire daily in the US, states the Washington Post.
The GOP’s fiendish plans to destroy the Social Security social safety net is an enormous leap backward from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signature legislative accomplishment of the New Deal, the Social Security Act of 1935, co-formulated with Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins.
The Social Security Act was a new kind of federally administered social insurance system which would care for those in their old age and those who could not care for themselves. This was accomplished by using employee payroll deductions and matched employer contributions to provide continuing income for beneficiaries 65 and older after retirement. Included in this law were assistance programs for the poor, disabled, unemployed, dependent widows and fatherless children. It is simply misleading and totally bigoted to characterize people meeting eligibility standards as “scammers” and “drivers of debt.”
Social Security has been operating since 2016 with a surplus of $3.52 billion, according to Slate magazine. A funding gap is projected in 2034, primarily because millionaires are not required to pay their fair share into Social Security. Eliminating the payroll tax cap would require them to contribute the same percentage of their income, like everyone else.
On April 5, Democratic Congressman John Larson of Connecticut introduced The Social Security 2100 Act (House Resolution 1902). The bill is before the Ways and Means Committee, according to the Senior Citizens League. This important legislation lifts monthly benefits by 2 percent, makes cost of living adjustments, or COLAs, and mandates, among other things, Social Security’s solvency.
Perkins understood government’s responsibility to its people when she said, “Government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.” The Social Security system that she devised and Roosevelt approved does that. Indeed, without it, life would be impossible for many people.
Look at it this way: Without Social Security and Medicare people will die, plain and simple, and Ryan, Mulvaney, Mitch McConnell, President Trump and the Republican Party will have their blood on their hands.
A version of this story appeared in the PW’s March 15 edition.