Late last night, the Senate passed its version of the tax cut bill. Next step? According to GOP leaders, it will be “entitlement reform.” Which includes the Social Security and Medicare benefits you have been paying for – with every paycheck – since you started working. Just like they’ve been talking about since the Bush tax cuts.
Congress won’t have to do anything, to cut Medicare by $25 billion next year. If President Trump signs a final version of this bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it will create a budget deficit that will trigger $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare.
And if “chained-CPI” is still in the bill, Congress won’t have to do anything to cut Social Security benefits, long term. “Chained-CPI” is a way of calculating inflation that incorporates a ratcheting-down of benefits. It assumes that senior citizens who can’t afford steak don’t need a cost of living increase because they can buy chicken, instead. And those who can’t afford to buy chicken can buy tuna. And if they can’t afford tuna… It’s the cat food thing. (Read our 2013 post about chained-CPI here.)
BUT they’re already planning more cuts. Because at some point, our government is going to have to do something about our national debt. Which has quadrupled since the Bush tax cuts. Which is now equal to more than $170,000 per taxpayer. Which has increased by $745 billion – almost 4% — since the debt limit was suspended on September 8th. Which was only 11 weeks ago.
Having a hard time wrapping your head around what you just read? Let’s try it again.
On September 8, 2017, Congress suspended the debt limit. Since then (only 11 weeks), the debt has grown by more than $745 billion. And Congress is cutting taxes in order to add $1.5 Trillion to that number.
It’s pretty clear that Congress is creating a “debt problem” that they’re going to “solve” by going after Social Security and Medicare.
Newsweek: Republicans will cut Social Security and Medicare after tax plan passes, Rubio says
Forbes: How the GOP tax plan scrooges middle class, retired and poor
Washington Post: GOP eyes post-tax-cut changes to welfare, Social Security and Medicare
This isn’t a surprise. Back in 2004, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggested cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits to pay for the cost of the Bush tax cuts.
Looks like that’s still the strategy. Here’s where it goes from being “strategy” to “theft.”
Since 2012, most workers have been paying more into the Social Security system than they can expect to receive in benefits.
People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It’s a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
Back in 2001, 57% of Americans wanted to roll back the Bush tax cuts to protect (what was then) the budget surplus. A whopping 92% wanted to prevent Congress from using Social Security for any other purpose. But at last report, about $3 trillion of the national debt is now owed to the Social Security system.
So… if you’ve already put more in to the Social Security system than you can expect to get out of it – and Congress wants to put even more tax cuts on the nation’s credit card – and Congressional leadership wants to pay down that extra debt by cutting Social Security… that means the money to pay for these tax cuts is coming out of your pocket.
Are you angry, yet?
Public Citizen reports that at least 6,243 Washington lobbyists have been working on this tax bill. That’s almost 12 lobbyists per legislator! Read about some of the last-minute add-ons – including an amendment that exempts a college in Michigan and a carve-out for cruise ships docking in Alaska – here. Wondering who benefits from this tax bill? Read about analyses done by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation here.
If you want to contact your elected federal officials about this, please do so on your own time and using your own personal phone/email. (Most employers prohibit using work time or resources for this sort of thing.)
Contact information for President Trump is available here.
You can find contact information for your two US Senators here.