The Social Security Act guarantees a monthly monetary benefit to eligible retirees and breadwinners, deceased spouses, people with disabilities, and others. Today, the Social Security program provides monthly benefits to more than 50 million people.
Briefly, the nation’s single-payer health insurance program is Medicare, for people 65 and older; the Social Security and Medicare programs are administered by the federal government. Medicare allows enrollment in private companies. According to a 2018 Reuter’s News Service survey, 70 percent of Americans approve of Medicare-For-All.
The complexities of both programs are many, and cannot be covered in this article alone. But understand this: any cuts affecting earned benefits undermine and endanger the general welfare of the nation because they would lead to a more impoverished and sicker population by putting millions of Americans at greater risk.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and some partisan backers want deeper cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid after implementing a $1.5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and approving a $675 billion budget for the Department of Defense. The losses incurred by these expenditures have created a record high federal deficit, which has reportedly increased by 77 percent since 2015 under McConnell’s watch. Social Security did not create this problem; McConnell and his cohorts did.
Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio, reminds us, “When Republicans in Congress said their tax cuts to wealthy multinational corporations would pay for themselves, they lied,” he wrote on Twitter. “Now, they’re going to try to come for hardworking people to foot the bill by slashing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We can’t let them.”
Almost 90 percent of families with low incomes depend on Social Security benefits, while families with high incomes receive about 10 percent of their money from the fund, according to investmentnews.com.
It is estimated that 30 million Americans have no health insurance at all, but even those who do are at the mercy of insurance company approval.
The number one cause of bankruptcy in America is medical costs. More people would die with proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts. The average disabled worker receives a mere monthly payout of $1,197, hardly enough to rent a one-bedroom apartment in California, yet Republican US Sen. Marco Rubio touts, “The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” according to The New York Times. Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, states the GOP position is underlying problem. Here are a few examples of what they propose:
• Cutting Social Security’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
• Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67
• Increasing the Social Security retirement age
Democrats support Social Security ACT 2100, recently introduced in the House by Ways and Means Subcommittee member Representative John B. Larson, the bill’s principal author and a Democrat from Connecticut. It would be the first major expansion since 1972. Here are some examples of what the bill contains:
• Across-the-board increases equal to about 2 percent of the average Social Security benefit
• No tax on earnings from $132,900 to $400,000
• “Fixes” Social Security for 75 years, but keeps the system permanently solvent
• Increases payroll taxes on workers
• Cuts federal income tax for about 12 million middle-income people but raises other taxes
Richtman states, “Social Security has a $2.89 trillion surplus and is able to pay full benefits through 2034. One reason behind the funding gap projected to begin in 2034 is that millionaires are exempt from paying their fair share into Social Security.”
Eliminating the Payroll Tax Cap would require millionaires to contribute the same percentage of their income as everyone else and would go a long way to shore up Social Security’s long-term finances.
When you vote, remember to protect your earned benefits and the Social Security system. You will be voting in your own best interest now and for future generations. Get the word out today.
Alicia Dhanifu, MFA, is a producer, educator and writer. To order a CD of her “How to Forgive Oneself and Others” visit fitandfundvds.com or write to PO Box 91797, Pasadena, CA., 91109.