HuffPo Hill: Democrats and Social Security advocates are accusing House Republicans of trying to kneecap Social Security on the very first day of the new Congress, and in sneaky fashion.
The House passed a rules package for the year that Democrats say would prevent lawmakers from enacting a routine reallocation of Social Security payroll streams to shore up the ailing disability insurance trust fund. The rule, which Democratic aides said was amended late Monday night, says it would be out of order for Congress to reduce the actuarial balance of the Social Security retirement account, which is what Social Security advocates would like it to do to prevent a 20 percent reduction in benefits for 10 million disability recipients next year.
The alternative, of course, is for Congress to do something to specifically reform the disability program (for instance, by slashing benefits). Many Republicans have lamented the rise in disability rolls, which they have suggested is something of a welfare sham. A summary of the rule from the GOP side of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Social Security, says the proposed rule prevents a raid on retirement insurance.
"It prevents a diversion of funds from the Social Security retirement program, which is already facing a huge unfunded liability," the summary says. "Importantly, this rule sets the stage for reforms to the DI program that will make it work better for future beneficiaries." Yet Democrats and Social Security advocates argue the reallocation has been done 11 times in the past. "Rather than solve the short-term problems facing the Social Security Disability program as we have in the past, Republicans want to set the stage to cut benefits for seniors and disabled Americans," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in a press release.
- L.A. Times: On Day One, the new Congress launches an attack on Social Security (01/06/2015)
- Huffington Post: Dems Decry Social Security Sneak Attack (01/06/2015)
- Huffington Post: The New Republican Attack on Social Security Starts Now! (01/06/2015)
- CBS News: House Rule Sets up Election-Year Battle Over Social Security (01/07/2015)
- New York Times: Uh Oh! Republicans are trying to "Protect" Social Security Again (01/07/2015)
The new House rule will hurt vulnerable disability beneficiaries: "Most DI (disabled) recipients are older people, so helping DI helps seniors. The risk of disability rises with age, and most DI beneficiaries are older. Seventy percent of disabled workers are age 50 or older, 30 percent are 60 or older, and 20 percent are 62 or older and would actually qualify as early retirees under Social Security."
Rep. Tom Reed (Republican - New York) said he sponsored the provision in an effort to force Congress to find a long-term solution to the disability program's financial problems. (Tom Reed scored an 80% loyalty rating from the Tea Party).
This is Tom Reed: He once ran a debt collection businesses...
During his first term in Congress, Reed proposed a resolution that would install a national debt clock on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Reed also focused on bringing attention to "wasteful government spending" and supported budget amendments that he claimed "saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars" by eliminating government funding for projects.
He also voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and supported the Budget Control Act of 2011.
After his reelection to Congress, Reed drafted the Promoting Assistance with Transitional Help Act. The bill would "modify" the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) program by introducing a 5-year limit on welfare payments to individuals. Reed hopes that requiring the program to provide only temporary emergency relief will reduce dependence on government assistance.
In 2013, Reed offered amendment 103 to the House Farm Bill (H.R. 1947), which would have imposed a lifetime ban on food assistance through SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, for life for people convicted of certain violent offenses. Of the 1.6 million people in state or federal prison, about one in six were convicted of offenses targeted by this amendment, with African Americans and Latinos disproportionately affected.
But this isn't just about Tom Reed, this is who we have running Congress now. Besides cutting benefits for the disabled, the new GOP Congress is also looking for ways to cut taxes, to deliberately lower tax revenues, so they can force cuts in other social programs (e.g. Social Security, TANF, food stamps, etc.) This has been the GOP's "Starve the Beast" strategy.
A Republican Ruse to Make Tax Cuts Look Good -- "The Republicans’ interest in dynamic scoring ... comes from political factions convinced that tax cuts are the panacea for all economic ills. They will use dynamic scoring to justify a tax cut that, under conventional scorekeeping, loses revenue. When revenues do in fact decline and deficits rise, those same proponents will push for steep cuts in government insurance or investment programs, because they will claim that the models demand it. That is what lies inside the Trojan horse of dynamic scoring."
Without (or with a severely limited) social safety net, we'll need many more and better-paying jobs. But a new study claims that just since 2007, 1.5 million LESS Americans and 2 million MORE immigrants are working in the U.S. From The Atlantic:
Does Immigration Harm Working Americans? -- "At the top of the income distribution, wages are rising. In the middle and bottom, wages stagnate. Jobs are created, yes—but native-born Americans are not hired for them. Last month, the Center for Immigration Studies released its latest jobs study* [and] found that even now, almost seven years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans are working than in November 2007, the peak of the prior economic cycle. Balancing the 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans at work, there are 2 million more immigrants—legal and illegal—working in the United States today than in November 2007. All the net new jobs created since November 2007 have gone to immigrants. Meanwhile, millions of native-born Americans, especially men, have abandoned the job market altogether. The percentage of men aged 25 to 54 who are working or looking for work has dropped to the lowest point in recorded history." (* Note: It's a long article because it goes into great depth as to cause and effect. (Wiki: About The Atlantic / Wiki: Criticism of the Center for Immigration Studies / About the Center for Immigration Studies / Daily Beast: The Immigration False-Fact Think Tank / Wiki: About The Daily Beast)
But with or without any more immigration — (read this next): Where will all the Workers Go? -- “The risk is that robotics and automation will displace workers in blue-collar manufacturing jobs before the dust of the Third Industrial Revolution settles ... But, unless the proper policies to nurture job growth are put in place, it remains uncertain whether demand for labor will continue to grow as technology marches forward ... Even that may not be sufficient, in which case it will become necessary to provide permanent income support to those whose jobs are displaced by software and machines.”
American Workers are the "Beasts"
Now we have the GOP's "Starve the Beast" strategy — to starve tax revenues to force cuts in government spending, usually on social programs — because we (the American people) are the beasts of burden to be starved. So all-in-all, this is the top 0.01 percent's End Game:
1) Deny Americans good-paying jobs and force them into low-paying jobs, or
2) Force unemployed Americans onto the government dole, and then...
3) Manipulate the tax base in such a way so that the government can't afford to pay permanently displaced workers who were forced onto the government dole — thereby starving the beasts to death.
How many Republican voters will also suffer at the hands of those they just elected to Congress? Don't any Republican voters also become unemployed, poor, disabled or old?