Fifteen years of experience at this blog tells me that when I write about Social Security, readership that day drops by about one-third, sometimes more.
Of course, I have no way to prove it but I'm pretty sure that a vast majority of U.S. TGB readers, most of whom collect Social Security, would have serious challenges to face if the program's benefit was reduced.
Some people would not fill prescriptions or they might cut dosages – the poorer among us are known to do this. Others would go hungry.
The Social Security benefit is small enough but it is also the most successful social program in the history of the United States raising, according to 2017 statistics, 22 million Americans in all 50 states above the poverty line. That includes 15 million elders.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of Congress members and some presidents who have been and still are hell bent on cutting Social Security. So you of the TGB one-third who skip Social Security stories – maybe take a couple of minutes to skim this post so you'll understand the threats.
During the 2016 campaign and beyond, President Trump repeatedly said he would protect, and not cut, Social Security (and Medicare, Medicaid). Here's the compilation video from the Washington Post:
Since his election, Trump has mostly ignored Social Security and then, in his 2019 proposed Budget last March, he called for “$25 billion in cuts to Social Security over 10 years, including cuts to disability insurance” according to Vox.
The president's budget is not legally binding and Congress is free to ignore it or any parts of it whe they craft each year's budget for the country. However, it does provide Congress a sense of the chief executive's priorities, budgetary objectives and recommended spending levels.
Since Social Security was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, Congress members, especially Republicans, have been eagerly standing in line to not just cut Social Security benefits but to kill the program entirely.
The most recent is Republican Senator Joni Ernst who is up for re-election next year. She spoke at a town hall in Estherville, Iowa, about Social Security and how to “maintain” it:
The audio was poorly recorded so if you missed it, here is Ernst's salient point on Social Security (emphasis added).
”...as various parties and members of Congress, we do need to sit down behind closed doors so we’re not being scrutinized by this group or the other, and just have an open and honest conversation about what are some of the ideas that we have for maintaining Social Security in the future.”
“Closed doors.” “Not scrutinized.” “Open and honest.” All in one sentence. And in public, too. Which, I suppose, isn't too bright when you're holding secret conversations about cuts that would impoverish millions of people.
This is not imminent. Most of Congress and the president are caught up in election fever now so changes to social network programs (and most everything else that needs attending to) will not be attempted until 2021. But it behooves us to understand what could happen and what the consequences would be so we are prepared when the time comes.
All this is not to say that Social Security doesn't need some shoring up, something that has been known but Congress has ignored since 1984. Here is a quick overview from The Motley Fool which starts out saying that Social Security is in “some pretty big trouble.”
”According to the April -released Social Security Board of Trustees report, the program won't bring in enough revenue over the long term (the next 75 years) to cover outlays to beneficiaries, inclusive of cost-of-living adjustments.
“The silver lining for seniors who are dependent on Social Security as a major source of income is that the program is in no danger of disappearing or going bankrupt.
“Recurring sources of revenue, such as the payroll tax and the taxation of benefits, ensure that there will always be money to divvy out to eligible beneficiaries.
“But the bad news is that Social Security is facing an estimated funding shortfall of $13.9 trillion between 2035 and 2093. If this shortfall isn't dealt with by adding revenue, cutting expenditures, or some combination of the two, retired-worker benefits could fall by as much as 23% within the next two decades. That means Social Security's future is in our elected lawmakers' hands.”
For all the years I've been writing about attacks on Social Security benefits, there have been numerous solutions to the shortfall many of which alone or in combination would work without burdening beneficiaries.
We will discuss some of these here in the future because it is vital to increase Social Security revenues and our Congresses have let us down since the aforementioned 1984 by doing nothing in all that time.
Meanwhile, Nancy Altman is the number one expert and advocate for Social Security in the U.S. Even when, like now, Social Security is not a front-page item, she keeps us informed on the program, what officials are or should be doing about it at Forbes and other publications around the web.
Or just Google her name and click on the “news” header in the results.