It didn’t take long for the GOP to blindside the working class with a surprise attack on Social Security disability insurance. In fact, they used the very first day of the new Congress to do just that.
“The Huffington Post” reports that on Tuesday the House passed new legislation that contains a “little-noticed provision” that will prohibit Congress from reallocating funds that would avert a deficit in the Social Security disability insurance program in 2016.
Social Security’s disability trust fund is forecast to run dry by next year, experts say. This will mean that almost 11 million Americans will see a 20 percent reduction in benefits, but this issue is not brand new. Social Security proponents have repeatedly asked legislators to reallocate funds from the retirement program to cover the difference, a measure that has been taken by Congress 11 times in the past 60 years.
This new rule could still allow a shifting of funds from the retirement fund to bolster the disability fund, but requires that “an accompanying proposal improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds.” The most likely way to meet this criteria would come from new revenues, e.g. taxes, or cuts to current benefits. The GOP’s m.o. is to side with benefit cuts, rather than impose new taxes on their wealthy constituents.
According to a tweet by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):
The GOP is inventing a Social Security crisis that will threaten benefits for millions and put our most vulnerable at risk.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Social Security, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), likened the reallocating of funds to a “raid on retirement insurance,” and stated:
This is worse than kicking the can down the road — it will actually make the retirement program worse off, and it does nothing to fix the disability program.
To address this issue, my measure creates a point-of-order to prohibit any diversion of funds from the retirement program to the disability program, but more than that, the rule seeks to encourage much-needed reform.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) completely disagreed with this statement, and reiterated that this practice has been standard in the past. He stated:
Reallocation has never been controversial, but detractors working to privatize Social Security will do anything to manufacture a crisis out of a routine administrative function. 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.