If you want to know what the Republicans in Congress will soon try to do to Social Security, pay attention to today's post.
As we have discussed in these pages many times over the years, Republicans have wanted to kill Social Security and Medicare since they were enacted in 1935 and 1965, respectively.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan is well known for his past attempts (so far failed) to kill Social Security, and the Robin-Hood-in-reverse American Health Care Act (aka Trumpcare) being debated now is a good indication – whatever happens to it – of what he and other Republicans will soon attempt with Social Security.
You have probably heard this widely reported premium nightmare people not yet old enough for Medicare will face if the ACHA becomes law:
"A 64-year-old earning [$26,500] will get sticker shock...Under the Republican plan, health insurers would be free to charge the senior more, raising that person's premium to $19,500.
“But the tax credit would be only $4,900, and the 64-year-old's share of the premium would then be $14,600 — about 10 times higher than the 21-year-old's."
You can comfortably assume that draconian changes of this kind will be adapted to fit Social Security when the Republicans move on to attack that program.
Ezra Klein, who is editor-in-chief at Vox and one of most knowledgeable policy journalists we have, made this video with a clear, easy-to-understand explanation of Trumpcare. It's worth five minutes of your time, keeping the future of Social Security in mind as you watch.
Late last year, Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX), chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee at the House Ways and Means Committee introduced H.R.6489 - Social Security Reform Act of 2016 - which he described as a "plan to permanently save Social Security."
At the time, estimable Los Angeles Times reporter, Michael Hiltzik called foul on that description:
”Followers of GOP habits won’t be surprised to learn that it achieves this goal entirely through benefit cuts, without a dime of new revenues such as higher payroll taxes on the wealthy.
“In fact, Johnson’s plan reduces the resources coming into the program by eliminating a key tax --another way that he absolves richer Americans of paying their fair share, while increasing the burdens of retirement for almost everyone else.”
To move forward, the bill needs to be reintroduced in the new 115th Congress which has not been done yet but undoubtedly some form of those changes will show up in future Social Security legislation.
In January, Social Security guru, Nancy Altman, wrote about another, more secretive way Congress may try to cut, if not entirely kill, Social Security (and Medicare). It's complicated, involving back-stage rules changes, but here is Altman's short explanation: Congress would transform the programs avoiding personal accountability by
”Using changes in the arcane rules of the budget to force through subsequent cuts...By the time the American people realize what’s happening, the rules that usher in the changes are in the past, and those voting for the cuts can claim that they have no choice, for budgetary reasons.
“The rule that has been adopted was telegraphed shortly after the election when Representative Tom Price, Chairman of the House Budget Committee and Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, proposed changes to the budget rules, which, if enacted, would end Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as we know them.”
As you know, Tom Price was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Medicaid “as we know it” is already on the chopping block with Trumpcare.
One way or another, the Republicans will try to kill Social Security and as the president has made evident already with other campaign promises, we cannot depend on his repeated statement not to cut Social Security and Medicare to hold.
In fact, former South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney who was recently confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has said that the president promised only to “save” Social Security. Nancy Altman had a few words to say about that:
“Mulvaney and other Republican elites, who hate Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, are now claiming that Trump was simply promising to 'save' these programs.
“Like the infamous comment about destroying the Vietnam village to save it, they argue that cutting or even dismantling these programs 'saves' them. In this twisted logic, Trump can cut these vital benefits, and not break his campaign promise not to cut them!
“The American people are not going to be fooled. If Mulvaney succeeds in convincing Trump to sign on to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, or even worse, ending them as we know them, Trump voters will know that they have been betrayed.
“And all Americans will know that the Republicans in Washington, including Trump, are working for Wall Street, not Main Street.”