The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has sent an urgent letter to Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Angus King (I-ME) expressing deep concern over a Social Security proposal reportedly taking shape under their names. The Cassidy-King plan would put Social Security on a slippery slope toward privatization — and ultimately cut benefits for future beneficiaries.
The Cassidy-King plan attempts to address the projected shortfall in the Social Security trust fund by borrowing $1.5 trillion to invest on Wall Street (modeled on the concept of a “sovereign wealth fund”) — in hopes it would yield sufficient returns to pay back the loans and still have enough money left over to cover any future gap in Social Security funding. But this funding scheme really is a trojan horse for benefit cuts that reportedly are at the core of the Cassidy-King proposal.
“The so-called ‘sovereign wealth fund’ in the Cassidy-King proposal is an illusion – a smokescreen to promote a deal that is too good to be true. Workers who represent the heart of the middle class, along with some of the most vulnerable among us, will bear the brunt of the inevitable benefit cuts from this plan.” – Max Richtman, President & CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
Although details of the Cassidy-King proposal have not been made fully public, the news site Semafor reported that the plan includes raising the full retirement age to “around 70” — a massive lifetime benefit cut for future retirees — and changing the formula that Social Security uses to determine monthly benefits, another potential blow to all but the lowest-income beneficiaries.
Although it’s true that over long periods of time, markets can produce higher rates of return than the guaranteed Treasury bonds in which the trust fund is currently invested, the amount of time it has taken the markets to recover from downturns in the past has stretched as long as thirty years. In fact, the Dow has spent almost 70 out of the last 100 years recovering from downturns.
“For the math to add up, a plan like Cassidy-King would ultimately have to cut benefits. Otherwise, we’re talking about ‘magic money’ from ephemeral Wall Street returns that may not materialize. Any claims by the plan’s authors or supporters in Congress that Cassidy-King would not cut benefits for future retirees are not credible.” – Max Richtman
The Cassidy-King plan, which has attracted some bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, is yet another conservative scheme to “save” Social Security by changing the fundamentals of the program itself — a program which is enormously popular and has provided seniors with financial security for more than 80 years. Most every Republican proposal ultimately would lead to benefit cuts – if not for today’s beneficiaries, then for their children and grandchildren. Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. John Larson, have introduced legislation that would keep the Social Security trust fund solvent and expand, not cut, benefits for the growing share of Americans who depend on the program for all or most of their retirement income. These bills achieve this by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes to fund Social Security.
“We have endorsed the Sanders and Larson bills, while urging members of Congress who truly want to strengthen Social Security to reject legislation that would alter its fundamental nature, cut benefits, or privatize the program. Because so many seniors are highly dependent on their earned benefits to pay their bills, they are unwilling to risk their monthly checks on the mirage of a Wall Street paved with gold.” – Max Richtman
Read our in-depth analysis of the Cassidy-King plan here.