August 24, 2010
-- by Dave Johnson
The President has appointed a commission to study ways to reduce the deficit, but the only thing anyone is hearing from this commission (they meet in secret) is that they are going after Social Security instead. For this reason it has become known as the "Catfood Commission" instead of the "Deficit Commission" because any reductions in benefits will force so many older Americans to eat catfood instead of more expensive human food.
Congress should preempt the commission from targeting Social Security by making it clear that they will not accept cuts or an increase in the retirement age.
Social Security cannot legally borrow, so it is not possible for it to add to the deficit at all. In fact it is entirely self-funded and has a huge surplus. But Presidents Reagan and the Bushes borrowed from Social Security to give those huge tax cuts to the rich, and the money is coming due. This is the reason Social Security is the focus of the commission instead of the things that actually caused the deficits and debt. They are trying to find ways to avoid having to pay that money back to Social Security. Congress should tell the commission to look at the real causes of the deficits and debt and not at Social Security which does not contribute to deficits and debt.
Every one of us knows that the deficits come from the tax cuts for the rich and huge military spending increases of recent decades. Those tax cuts were the direct cause of the deficit and debt problem. The military increases are a second cause of the problem. Social Security was never a cause of the problem -- it isn't allowed to borrow and instead ran a huge surplus. The clear way to fix the problem is to restore tax rates to pre-deficit levels and cut the military budget to pre-Cold War levels.
Representative Raul Grijalva, Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says that Congress should preempt the catfood commission by making it clear that they will not accept cuts in Social Security. In fact the program actually needs to be expanded. In a call today, Grijalva said, (from notes)
"Long term we should be promoting preservation, strengthening Social Security now instead of playing hide-the-ball to see what commission does. It is ironic that all we hear from the commission is Social Security, but nothing about taxation of upper 2 percent, and other things are off the books like the wars, and the trillions of deficit spending they caused. Nothing should be off the table. Defense spending and taxation have to be part of it, we have to close corporate loopholes, address corporate taxation, royalty relief for use of public lands. At what point do we repeal tax cuts?"
"It took a long time to build this debt. We should conquer the deficit over 10 years or so. There are ways to do that. But Social Security is one important issue that should be taken off the table, it does not add to debt. It should not be a factor."
"Members of Congress should state NOW they will not support cuts in Social Security, and pre-empt what the commission might say, state their opinions now. They wold be wise to represent constituents on this. There is no risk attached to doing that."
Members of Congress are asked to take a pledge to protect Social Security. The pledge reads:
Social Security belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to it. Social Security is a promise that must not be broken. If you pay in, then you earn the right to benefits for yourself, your spouse and your dependent children when you retire, experience a severe disability, or die.
Click here to see who has taken the pledge, and please call your member of Congress and Senators and ask them to take the pledge.
Posted by Dave Johnson at August 24, 2010 6:29 PM
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