Public Comment

The Assault on Social Security

Harry Brill
Friday March 25, 2016 - 05:15:00 PM

The current Republican agenda is to brutally slash the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs. We should not wait until the last minute to respond to this madness. The Republicans are screaming that Social Security will be running out of money in about 20 years, which makes substantial cuts necessary soon. But the program has a surplus of almost $3 trillion, and for a long while it can pay its recipients full benefits. Moreover, by making the payroll tax progressive so that the wealthy pay its fair share, it can even appreciably increase the benefits to ALL Social Security recipients.  

Why are conservatives committed to assaulting the Social Security program? First, keep in mind that they are opposed to all public programs that do not primarily benefit the wealthy and big corporations. Second, they would like to reduce the matching contributions that employers must pay. Third, as a few of these Republicans have acknowledged, they want to privatize the program. 

In other words, the business community, in the interest of increasing profits, would not blink an eye on increasing poverty. That is, the wealthy class favor policies that deprive millions of people of their basic needs in favor of catering to their luxurious life style. So in addition to being opposed to welfare programs in which eligibility depends on needs, they are even opposed to a very successful program for working people who receive benefits because they earned them. 

Social Security is the nation's major anti-poverty program. The majority of recipients receive most of their income from Social Security. In fact, 74 percent of unmarried elderly recipients depend on Social Security for over half their income. 

But we are not only concerned about those who are currently collecting. Many millions more will become eligible when they retire. But to make matters worse, the Republicans want to change the retirement age for full benefits to age 70. Were that to happen, competition for jobs will grow, which in turn will increase unemployment and depress wages. For many of us it is difficult to understand the insatiable appetite of the one percent until we realize that they have abolished empathy!