Social Security ‘Deja Vu All Over Again’

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

They have in every federal election for decades, so, next year, virtually everyone expects the Democratic National Committee and every Democrat running to fund-raise and campaign on a Social Security “horror” message.

Parodists at the Babylon Bee amusingly observed, “Democrats Make Environmental Commitment To Use Only 100% Recycled Talking Points.”

But, this time, the scaremongering started early.

Democrats and complicit media have already begun charging that “Republicans Are Bringing Back Their Plan to Gut Social Security and Medicare.”

They would have credulous voters believe that sinister Republicans are willing to sacrifice the welfare and futures of their own friends and loved ones for some ambiguous political benefit.

However, the Democrats’ disingenuous message was thrown a lifeline by candidate Nikki Haley, former UN Ambassador and governor of South Carolina, who, in a recent GOP presidential “undercard” debate, endorsed cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age.

In one clueless moment, Haley awarded “credibility” to the allegations of the doom merchant Democrats who biennially target seniors, America’s most reliable voters.

As economist Stephen Moore points out, “The AVERAGE Social Security benefit today is a measly $1,705.80 a month. That’s after paying 40 years of a 12% payroll tax imposed on every paycheck they earned. The GOP should be talking about how to make Social Security a BETTER deal for seniors, not a worse one.”

According to the Social Security Board of Trustees’ 2022 annual report, the surplus in the alleged “trust funds” that disburse retirement, disability and other Social Security benefits will be depleted by 2035. Clearly, some reform is necessary.

But it didn’t have to be that way.

In 2009, then-President Barack Obama named Clinton White House staffer Erskine Bowles and former Republican senator Alan Simpson to co-chair a bipartisan commission to address the federal budget deficit and the coming crisis in entitlement costs. The commission announced proposals to limit the national debt to a more manageable level and significantly cut the budget deficit.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi immediately declared the Bowles-Simpson Plan “simply unacceptable.” She and her caucus opposed the modest modifications to Social Security the commission suggested: increasing the retirement age and reducing benefits for higher earners.

Pelosi and her colleagues had far more principled company, though, in opposing a change to make Social Security more progressive by targeting the neediest qualifying recipients.

Means-testing Social Security would turn a program designed as an individual tax-funded social safety net into a welfare plan. Many proud seniors who might qualify under proposed guidelines, but were never on public welfare, objected to a means-based formula for being “awarded” a benefit they were taxed to receive.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat icon, is credited, fairly or not, with benefitting generations of American seniors by enacting Social Security. It makes no difference what one thinks of the wisdom or current effectiveness of the Social Security System, it’s become an American institution.

Roosevelt’s ideological heirs in the modern party should not be remembered as kindly. Democrats have been playing games with Social Security for decades, both by politicizing the issue and misusing its assets.

In fact, Washington Democrats are the only identifiable group of politicians who have actually damaged the Social Security safety net they claim to defend.

Washington Democrats’ dismal Social Security legacy includes:

  1. Democratic President Lyndon Johnson and a Democrat-controlled House and Senate took Social Security from the independent “Trust Fund,” and put FICA payroll tax receipts into the general fund, allowing Congress to spend it on other “stuff,” while leaving American seniors drawers-full of IOUs.
  2. Democratic President Jimmy Carter and congressional Democrats voted to give Social Security annuity payments to immigrants who had not paid into the system.
  3. In 1993, a Democrat-controlled Congress, with Vice President Al Gore casting the tie-breaking Senate vote, began taxing Social Security annuities as part of one of the largest tax increases in American history. The tax bill was signed by Democrat President Bill Clinton.

So, after violating the original Social Security contract with Americans, adding unvested recipients and double-taxing benefits prepaid through payroll taxes, Democrats expect Americans to believe that Republicans will take away seniors’ Social Security.

It would be laughable if the allegation weren’t so patently dishonest.

Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine how Republicans could do more damage to Social Security than Democrats have already done.