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A Dangerous Republican Scheme for Social Security and Medicare
All their plans add up to less for the people who need it the most
The truth hurts sometimes, and the latest greatest example would be the part of President Biden’s State of the Union speech where he pointed the finger at Republican aspirations to kill the primary elements of the social safety net: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Republicans have responded to this assertion by feigning outrage.
Their allies in the media are trumpeting claims that this isn’t true. Fox News has reported that the White House has "tripled down" on the "false claim" that "congressional Republicans want to slash several programs including Social Security and Medicare."
The crying about Biden’s words has gone beyond the wingnut media. ABC’s Jonathan Karl says the president has gone "over the top." CNN featured pollster Frank Luntz calling Biden's comments "dishonest."
The LA Times’ Michael Hiltzik and Judd Legum’s influential newsletter have the receipts on Republicans’ true intentions, and the White House has made a point of circulating Sen. Rick Scott’s platform where he calls for sunsetting all federal legislation every five years.
Given that our national legislature is barely able to agree on naming post offices, the assertion that worthwhile programs will of course be renewed is just plain… What's that word? Oh, yeah–malarkey.
The GOP’s platforms over the few decades have all called for various paths that all lead to beneficiaries of federally run programs getting less assistance. The corporate masters behind the right’s PACs and think tanks are united in their ambition to eliminate the New Deal’s programs favoring the non-wealthy.
All Republican commentary about Social Security and Medicare starts with the assertion that these programs are ‘entitlements’ as if they were some sort of largess that’s become outdated.
‘Reforming’ them would, we’re told, be an effective means of tackling the deficit.
I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t say something about Republicans only caring about our national indebtedness when Democrats have the White House. The Trump/GOP 2017 tax cut for the wealthy has blown a multi trillion-dollar hole in the budget, but somehow that’s sacred.
By the way, if you’re not particularly wealthy your income tax bill this past year will be going up, even as the money-bag-set pay less percentage wise. That’s the GOP’s preferred way for “tax cuts” to work.
Saying they’re not working to cut these safety net programs flies in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
From Judd Legum’s Popular Information:
The largest caucus of House Republicans is the Republican Study Committee (RSC). There are 156 members of the RSC, which is more than 70% of the entire Republican delegation. The 2023 budget proposed by the RSC, called "The Blueprint to Save America," calls for cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Specifically, the 2023 RSC budget cuts Social Security in two ways. First, it increases the retirement age by three years. That increase is phased in, reaching the full three-year increase in 12 years. After that, the retirement age would be continuously raised to align "the normal retirement ages to the life expectancy of retirees." The retirement age increase is a benefit cut because it reduces the benefit to zero for Americans who have not reached the new retirement age. Second, the RSC budget changes the benefit formula to reduce the benefits for all workers who are 54 years and younger. It would also weaken the health of the program by allowing workers to divert payroll taxes previously devoted to Social Security into private retirement accounts.
The RSC budget would also cut Medicare benefits by increasing the retirement age, first by "aligning Medicare’s eligibility age with the normal retirement age for Social Security and then indexing this age to life expectancy." This is a benefit cut because it reduces benefits to zero to seniors who would otherwise qualify. It would also transform Medicare benefits into a means-tested voucher program, similar to the one proposed by former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) in 2012.
Here the LA Times’ Hiltzik on Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) proposals:
They know they’re on thin ice with the public when they talk about benefit cuts, which is why Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) once recommended discussing their ideas only “behind closed doors.”
Now we can turn to the specifics of Lee’s and Scott’s plans. In widely circulated videos from Lee’s first successful Senate campaign in 2010 he can be seen and heard stating as follows: “It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it out by the roots.” He said that was why he was running for the Senate, and added, “Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort. They need to be pulled up.”
As for Scott, his 12-point “Rescue America” plan, issued last year, included a proposal to sunset all federal legislation after five years . “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.” The implications for Social Security and Medicare, which were created by federal legislation, were unmistakable — so much so that the proposal made Republican officeholders’ skin crawl.
Another part of the GOP scheme would allow workers to divert some or all of their payroll tax contributions into private retirement accounts. President Bush’s 2005 plan for doing such diversions went nowhere once the numbers were crunched: stockbrokers loved the idea, potential retirees were gambling with their futures.
The obvious solution to concerns about the impact of Social Security and Medicare on the federal budget would be to raise or remove the cap on payroll tax, currently pegged at 6.2% of wage income up to a maximum $160,200. Such a move would amount to heresy for Republicans because those earning more than who would pay more.
The President has wisely said he’ll veto any legislation cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. Republicans know this. But their long term goal is to soften up public opinion enough to buy their garbage excuses for making the rich richer and screwing the rest of us.
In the meantime, if Republicans don’t want Biden to say they want to cut Social Security and Medicare, maybe they should stop trying to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Pay attention here. The Awaken Church’s advocacy keeps involving more violent rhetoric, more anti-Semitic tropes, and alliances with extremists using the war on woke as justification.
And yet another door opens to encourage extremism
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