Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Social Security in the Budget Deal

Today, the Republican Leadership agreed to a deal to keep the government operating, raise the debt limit, and ensure that all Social Security benefits continue to be paid in full and on time beyond 2016. When hostage takers release their hostages, we are, of course, relieved that the hostages are no longer in harm’s way, but this is nothing to celebrate. That the ransom isn’t steeper is also not something to celebrate. 
The deal does include some good provisions: Medicare beneficiaries will not experience the drastically large premium increases that were set to take effect next year. It also closes a loophole that was introduced in the law relatively recently that allows wealthier Americans to game the system by claiming extra benefits inconsistent with the goals of the program.
But there is a diversion of Social Security resources towards virtually nonexistent fraud. This focus on fraud is a distraction from Social Security’s one real shortcoming: its benefits are too low, and an overwhelming majority of Americans know it. Congress should follow the will of the people by expanding those modest but vital benefits and restore the program to long range actuarial balance by requiring the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share.

The fraud-prevention provisions will require workers with disabilities to wait longer to receive their earned benefits and may prevent some from receiving their earned benefits completely. That is wrong. And though there are positive in this deal, Social Security legislation, as a matter of principle, should always go through regular order, in the light of day. If that were done, Social Security would be expanded. 
I created a petition to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama which says:   

"Social Security benefits should be expanded, not cut." 
Will you sign this petition? Click here:   

Michael Phelan
Social Security Works 

THE LABOR ANGLE ON THE BUDGET: GOP PUSHES STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO SSDI: The budget agreement "would raise spending by $80 billion over two years, not including a $32 billion increase included in an emergency war fund," the New York Times' David Herszenhorn reports. "Those increases would be offset by cuts in spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits, as well as savings or revenue from an array of other programs ... "
"Aides said that the Social Security Disability Insurance program would be amended so that a medical exam now required in 30 states before applicants could qualify for benefits would be required in all 50 states. That change was projected to save the government $5 billion."

"The emerging deal would also reallocate funds among Social Security program trust funds to ensure solvency of the disability insurance program. Such reallocations have occurred regularly over the decades but Republicans had opposed any new reallocation without changes to reduce costs of the program." http://nyti.ms/1LyCYHW

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