|...by the way
On the first day the new Republican-dominated Congress convened, the House passed a measure that could force cuts in Social Security benefits.
The Associated Press reports,
Buried in new rules that will govern the House for the next two years is a provision that could force an explosive battle over Social Security's finances on the eve of the 2016 presidential election...
To shore up the disability program, Congress could redirect payroll taxes from Social Security's much larger retirement fund — as it has done in the past. However, the House adopted a rule Tuesday blocking such a move, unless it is part of a larger plan to improve Social Security's finances, by either cutting benefits or raising taxes.Never mind that Social Security benefits, which are earned, keep millions out of poverty and sustain what's left of the middle class,
Michael Hiltzik explains in the Los Angeles Times what Congress is up to:
The rule hampers an otherwise routine reallocation of Social Security payroll tax income from the old-age program to the disability program. Such a reallocation, in either direction, has taken place 11 times since 1968, according to Kathy Ruffing of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
But it's especially urgent now, because the disability program's trust fund is expected to run dry as early as next year. At that point, disability benefits for 11 million beneficiaries would have to be cut 20%. Reallocating the income, however, would keep both the old-age and disability programs solvent until at least 2033, giving Congress plenty of time to assess the programs' needs and work out a long-term fix.Hiltzik also describes the reaction of Social Security supporters: They are almost 'universally aghast.' Wrote Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare:
It is hard to believe that there is any purpose to this unprecedented change to House rules," in an open letter Tuesday, "other than to cut benefits for Americans who have worked hard all their lives, paid into Social Security and rely on their Social Security benefits, including Disability Insurance, in order to survive.(For those of you who think people on disability are lazy malingerers, Hiltzik explains how stringent the disability rules are.)
Welcome to the new Congress.