Excuse for the Debt Commission to cut the program despite Social Security solvency.
Former U.S. House Aging Committee Director Robert Weiner and Jonathan Battaglia, a Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates, say that the Social Security Trustees' Annual Report, to be released Wednesday, will be used as an excuse for the Debt Commission to cut the program despite Social Security's solvency.
"It's an illusion that cutting Social Security will reduce the deficit. If the new Report does not point out that the money seniors have given to Social Security keeps it fully solvent through 2043, and after that some 80 percent funded, it's a propaganda fraud for defenders," Weiner and Battaglia assert in an op-ed in the Palm Beach Post. The article is entitled, "Hands Off Social Security: There are Better Ways to Cut the National Debt."
The authors note the Commission is "littered with politicians and industry CEOs who have a history of wanting to scale back Social Security benefits." The House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), told Weiner, "The Commission is loaded with billionaires who want to convert Social Security's money to business."
Weiner and Battaglia continue, "Commission Co-chair Erskine Bowles is linked to Wall Street as a Morgan Stanley board member, and Honeywell CEO David Cote to the defense industry, both of which would benefit from Social Security's money. Will these captains of industry stand up for people who need Social Security the most? Or look for ways to transfer its money to defense and stocks" The authors also cite conflicts of the other commission members.
Weiner and Battaglia highlight the importance of Social Security to retired Americans: "Without Social Security, nearly half of Americans age 65 or older would be below the poverty line. For two-thirds of the elderly, Social Security provides the majority of their income. For one-third, it provides nearly all."
The authors give alternatives to reducing the national debt without cutting Social Security: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the military needed to cut its 'gusher of defense spending.' Congress could also scale back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to the levels they were under Clinton and could get rid of tax breaks for U.S. corporations doing business overseas."
Weiner and Battaglia cite the negative reaction Americans had when President Bush talked about privatizing or cutting Social Security in 2006. "Obama should not let the Commission make the same mistake or this time it could cost him and his Party as the 2010 elections approach - and it's an unnecessary error based on misinformation."