A USA Today?s editorial tells us they should.
?Yet whenever someone says the popular programs need to be trimmed, the “don’t-touch-my-Medicare” and “don’t-touch-my Social Security” lobbies come out in full force. As long as Democrats refuse to curb benefits and Republicans refuse to raise taxes, the country slips ever closer to disaster. To be sure, there’s bloat in the federal bureaucracy and defense spending. But the real drivers of looming deficits are Medicare, projected to grow from $516 billion this year to $932 billion in 2018, and Social Security, forecast to grow from $581 billion this year to $966 in 2018 as Baby Boomers retire.?
Unfortunately, USA Today follows the ?lump it all together? strategy popularized first by the Bush administration and continued today by anti-entitlement foes. The vast majority of the ?looming deficits? we face are in Medicare which is suffering from the same skyrocketing health care costs seen system wide. Refusing to pass health care reform is a far bigger threat to our debt and deficit picture than Medicare singularly. And while Social Security will payout more over the next decade as baby boomers retire, this isn?t news to anyone. Workers have been paying extra payroll taxes for decades to build up a trust fund to cover this demographic bulge. Of course, Congress has already spent that money elsewhere. USA Today doesn?t even touch on that issue.Our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly, provided the Opposing View to today?s editorial. Her response focuses on plans to create a commission to target just the kind of cuts USA Today champions:
?Creating a commission that places a big red target on Social Security is an incredibly bad idea because Social Security is not the problem. Shifting blame onto social programs for the economic collapse caused by Wall Street excess, tax cuts during two wars and a housing bust ignores one basic fact: Social Security hasn?t contributed one dime to our nation?s bleak deficit and debt picture. In fact, the extra contributions made by American workers to build up the Social Security trust fund surplus have been used for decades to cover up our true budget picture. In classic Washington style, so-called fiscal hawks have selectively redefined our debt and deficit problem in order to fit their preconceived solution — cutting Social Security. And the political cover of a commission is just what they need to do their dirty work.America?s seniors want fiscal accountability to return to Washington. However, they understand that creating a commission to target deep cuts in a program that has kept millions of American afloat, while at the same time Wall Street executives claim million dollar bonuses thanks to a government bailout, is not fiscal responsibility. They are strongly opposed to the budget cutters? strategy to use Social Security as a piggy bank to pay down the debt and balance our federal ledgers.The political fiction underlying the creation of this commission consists of misleading claims that Social Security is an ?entitlement monster? that is ?bankrupting? our nation. Fiscal hawks have argued, even in times of budget surpluses, that our nation can?t afford a Social Security program which provides an average retirement benefit of $13,800 per year. In fact, as this economic collapse has proven once again, we can?t afford not to preserve and strengthen this basic retirement income for Americans. Slowing the rate of growth in healthcare spending nationwide, revisiting our tax priorities, and closing the long-term Social Security shortfall are judicious strategies that can bolster the economic picture for our country. However, these are not the stated goals of commission proponents.Our elected officials must understand what millions of seniors, the disabled, and their families already know; a commission is a predefined solution to a misdiagnosed problem putting a target squarely on middle class America, young and old alike. “
The Senate will vote on its fast-track entitlement Commission proposal tomorrow. Already, our members have sent Congress thousands of emails and phone calls urging them to vote NO on plans to sub-contract Congress’ work to a commission with one goal in mind…cutting Social Security and Medicare.Take a minute and use our Legislative Action Center to send an email or our Legislative Hotline 1-800-998-0180 to call your Senator.