Sunday, November 23, 2014

New GOP Congress has Sights on Social Security

GOP vs. Social Security

Before the 2014 mid-term elections, Republicans were changing their rhetoric on Social Security benefits. But now with the new GOP Congress, further cuts to Social Security are expected and service could get worse. Witold Skwierczynski, president of AFGE’s Social Security Council, warned of a “coming tide of budget cuts.”

Despite President Obama’s contentious executive action on immigration, it might actually help strengthen the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. According to the Center for American Progress, if 85% of undocumented workers were to pay Social Security payroll taxes, those workers would add $1.2 trillion into the Social Security Trust Fund during the 36 years when Social Security will be most affected by Baby Boomers’ retirements.

Furthermore, the Center for American Progress also noted that if 85% of undocumented workers contributed to Medicare, they would pay $253 billion into the Medicare Trust Fund over 20 years. In 2011 and 2013 Republicans voted to transform Medicare into a voucher program — even though as far back as 2009 Tea Party protesters were carrying signs saying "Keep Your Hands Off My Medicare!"

As far as Social Security, the new Republican Congress is expected to force additional office closures and impose additional cuts on the Social Security Administration's budget, even as a poll released this week by Social Security Works shows that 86% of the public overwhelmingly opposes the flimsy rationale for those cuts.

Social Security claimants requesting a hearing after being denied benefits will need a great deal more patience. There are about 1 million cases in the hearing backlog. SSA estimates it will take an average (not a maximum) of 435 calendar days for those clients to get a decision (not counting every appeal).

Republicans keep cutting the White House's budget requests for the Social Security Administration, despite the fact that the SSA's budget is paid out of the program's own funds and does not contribute to the Federal deficit.

Also, Congressional Republicans haven't given up on the idea of the privatization of Social Security either. From the Huffington Post:

"If you can't sell an idea on its merits, the next best approach is to slowly undermine the status quo. We've seen how this privatization game works: First, slowly starve a popular program of the funds it needs to operate efficiently and effectively [the GOP strategy known as "Starve the Beast"]. Then tell everybody the resulting problems and delays are proof that "government doesn't work." Finally, privatize it and watch the profits roll in at the expense of the public good."

Tea Party seniors just voted against their own best economic interests in the 2014 mid-term elections.

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