One of Chris Wallace's debate topics tonight was “Debt and Entitlements,” which is how conservatives frame their arguments for cutting Social Security and Medicare. The moron who ran the VP debate last month also read a card someone gave her that implied that Social Security would “run out of mone,” a falsify conservatives never tire of pushing on low-info/low-intelligence media folks like Elaine Quijano. As Social Security Works pointed out after Quijano stumbled into it, “This bogus framing sets up Social Security as a problem to be solved, not a solution to the retirement income crisis. The Republicans have used this framing to undermine confidence in the program and open the door for cuts to our earned benefits. Now we've learned that Freshman Senator David Perdue (R-GA) is working behind the scenes with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other Republican leaders to put cuts to Social Security at the top of the Republican agenda in 2017.”
What Perdue and McConnell have come up with is a plan to remove Social Security's guarantee by allowing Congress the power to vote each year on Social Security's spending, something that would allow conservatives to tie Social Security to the federal budget– even though Social Security is independently funded by the payroll tax and has never contributed one penny to our country's debt.”
At the same time, congressional conservatives are refusing to use a sensible index to decide on the annual cost-of-living-adjustments, resulting this coming year in a 0.3% increase– last year it was zero– even though costs for medical care and other actual expenses seniors are confronted with have gone up many times that amount. Elizabeth Warren is fighting to pass the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act, which would boost Social Security and other critical benefits for seniors, veterans, and Americans with disabilities. but Republicans and other conservatives are standing in the way. Yesterday she said that “For many seniors and other Americans struggling to make ends meet on tight budgets with rising expenses, today's COLA announcement offers little relief. There is still time to help make up for the fact that there was no cost-of-living adjustment in 2016. Congress should pass the SAVE Benefits Act when we are back in session in November to give a much-needed boost to millions of Americans who have earned it.”
The SAVE Benefits Act would give about 70 million seniors, veterans, Americans with disabilities, and others an emergency payment equal to 3.9 percent of the average annual Social Security benefit, about $581– the same percentage raise that top CEOs received last year.
A $581 increase could cover almost three months of groceries for seniors or a year's worth of out-of-pocket costs on critical prescription drugs for the average Medicare beneficiary. The bill would lift more than 1 million Americans out of poverty. The cost of this emergency payment would be covered by closing a tax loophole allowing corporations to write off executive bonuses as a business expense for “performance pay.” The substantial additional revenue saved by closing the CEO compensation loophole would be used to bolster and extend the life of the Social Security and Disability trust funds.
Bernie pointed out that the 0.3% increase announced yesterday amounts to an average of $4/month for the typical Social Security recipient. “Seniors and disabled veterans need more help than a few extra dollars in their monthly checks,” he said. “These are the people who built this country– our parents, our grandparents and our soldiers. At a time when senior poverty is going up and more than two-thirds of the elderly population rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, we must do everything we can to expand Social Security. Seniors and disabled veterans deserve a fair cost-of-living adjustment to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and health care. Unfortunately, the increase announced today doesn’t come close to doing that.”
Ryan, of course, is behind the push to to make Social Security part of the annual budget so that they have the opportunity to cut it every year. For him and his party's backers, even the meager 0.3% increase is too much.
|An issue worth running on– anywhere in America|
Jeff Merkley, a co-sponsor of Warren's SAVE Benefits Act also spoke out immediately. “With today’s announcement, the Social Security Administration is saying that seniors only need about five extra dollars a month to cover rising costs for next year. To anyone who truly believes that is adequate, I invite you to come to Oregon and tell that to seniors who are dealing with skyrocketing prescription drug prices, or who face eviction due to double-digit rent increases. This so-called ‘cost-of-living adjustment’ should serve as a wakeup call that the current consumer price index is not working for Social Security benefits. Social Security is the bedrock of retirement security in our nation, and if we want to make sure that the value of Social Security benefits doesn’t become dangerously eroded over time, we need to act now to put in place a consumer price index that reflects the true costs seniors face.”
Mary Hoeft and Tom Wakely, respectively running for Congress against Trump's top surrogates in Wisconsin, Sean Duffy, and Texas, Lamar Smith, spoke for all the Blue America candidates when they voiced their outrage. Mary told us, ironically, “Seniors just got the great news. With a whopping $4 a month increase in benefits, they can enjoy a monthly Value Meal at their neighborhood fast food restaurant. Thanks Seniors for your lifetime of hard work! God Forbid we get rid of the $118,500 cap on social security contributions. I would hate to think people with money would have to pay their fair share.”And Tom asked, “So this is how we honor our seniors? A 0.3% increase? The extra pennies are so insulting they'd be better off not increasing it all. I say pennies because we shouldn't even be talking about this in monthly terms. Seniors aren't living month to month. They're living day to day. Think about it as an extra 13 cents a day. That's what we're so “graciously” giving to our elderly in their time of need. Republicans will hammer even this insignificant raise, but likely use it as part of a national stump speech when it's time for the midterm elections to “prove” that Social Security doesn't work. I wholeheartedly support Senator Warren's SAVE Act. This isn't a welfare program. These citizens earned their benefits. 13 cents a day is beyond a slap in the face. It's an actual disgrace.” Please consider contributing to Mary, Tom and the other Blue America progressives who the DCCC is studiously ignoring.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis