It?s curious how quickly some in Washington have amnesia when it comes to discussing our nation?s deficit. Fiscal hawks in the House and Senate, who were adamant about extending Bush?s tax cuts for the rich (which would increase the deficit by more than $700 billion over the next two years) now insist they want to ?get serious? about the deficit by cutting Social Security. Very curious, indeed.Ignoring the fact that Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus and does not contribute to the deficit, fiscal hawks like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are already on record saying they refuse to vote on raising the debt ceiling in March, without significant cuts to Social Security. Raising the debt ceiling is necessary to avoid economic disaster and default on U.S. debt obligations. Despite this, Graham still wants to take Social Security hostage:
The U.S. will likely need to increase its debt ceiling this spring, and Congress blocking that would be very bad for the country, Graham said.?To not raise the debt ceiling could be a default of the United States? bond and Treasury obligations,? he said. ?But this is an opportunity to make sure the government is changing its spending ways. I will not vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long-term debt obligations, starting with Social Security.?Making Social Security solvent will likely require raising the age when benefits can be taken and testing individuals for whether they financially need to tap the system, he said. That test should also apply for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program.
As the new Republican majority House of Representatives readies for 2011, all reports say the focus will be on austerity and spending cuts. Brian Reidl, of the conservative Heritage Foundation, has outlined a deficit reduction plan for House Republicans to consider, that would cut Social Security.
?The difficulty for Republicans is that they?re concentrating their cuts in a small sliver of the budget,? Mr. Riedl said. ?They should also be addressing large entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, which are the main source of our budget problems. Cutting $100 billion from these other programs isn?t just a matter of eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. It will involve real cuts in real programs.?
The threats to Social Security are real. Despite the fact most Americans have not recovered from the recession and suffered serious losses in their 401(k)s and savings, some in Washington still would take away what little economic cushion lower and middle income workers have left for their future. This is why the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare will start a new radio ad campaign tomorrow, when the 112th Congress convenes, reminding our representatives ?Hands Off Social Security!?If you want to send a reminder of your own, use the National Committee?s E-Card, which can be sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.